PATEROS, Wash. -- It's been nearly three weeks since a wildfire devastated the small Central Washington town of Pateros.

At that time, the Carlton Complex blaze was growing to become Washington's largest ever wildfire. On Wednesday, piles of charred wood and ash could be seen across Pateros. Residents say loads of debris have already been removed, but there's still a long way to go.

On Tuesday, removal crews battled temperatures flirting with 100 degrees. Equipment operator Jason Johnson has been putting in 11 hours each day.

We've been just go, go, go, Johnson said.

The work benefits people like Keith Zweigle who is actually one of the lucky ones in Pateros. He only lost a shed. Next door, there's nothing left. It was in Zweigle's backyard where firefighters made their last stand and where Zweigle's dog, Scooby, made it out just in time.

I found her the next morning and she was asleep on the front porch, said Zweigle.

The city says many of those displaced are living with friends and families. Neighbors say some will return still finding some belongings weeks later. For now, the focus for most people is dealing with insurance companies while continuing to find ways to dig out.

It's a long haul, said Zweigle. It's not just a few weeks or a few months. We're looking at years of recovery here.

While the cleanup work continues, the city is hoping people will take time for a break on Saturday for the 67th annual Apple Pie Jamboree in downtown Pateros.

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