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Cold Springs and Pearl Hill Fires burn more acreage than 2014 Carlton Complex

The Carlton Complex fire of 2014 burned more than 256,000 acres, destroyed 353 homes and did almost $100 million worth of damage.

SPOKANE, Wash — Two fires burning in Douglas and Okanogan Counties are burning more than 337,000 acres as of Wednesday. 

The two fires, that started Sunday and Monday, combined are burning more acreage than one of the largest wildfires in Washington state history.

The Cold Springs Fire is burning approximately 163,000 acres near Omak, located in Okanogan County, as of Wednesday and is 0% contained. It began burning at about 9:45 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 6. Multiple structures have been lost.

The nearby Pearl Hill Fire is burning 174,000 acres nine miles east of Bridgeport, Washington, in Douglas County as of Wednesday. It is 0% contained at last check. The Pearl Hill Fire started when the Cold Springs Fire in Okanogan County spotted across the Columbia River on Monday.

In 2014 and 2015, Washington state saw devastating wildfire seasons.  

The Carlton Complex fire of 2014 burned more than 256,000 acres, destroyed 353 homes and did almost $100 million worth of damage. It all started as four lightning strikes that started four fires. All of the fires eventually merged into one big fire.

The following year, the Okanogan Complex burned over 500,000 acres to the east of where the Carlton Complex burned and destroyed another 120 homes. It was made up of five smaller fires that eventually merged into one. All of the fires were sparked by lightning. Three firefighters were killed trying to escape the Twisp River fire on Aug. 20, 2015. This year was considered Washington’s worst-ever wildfire season.

To put this into context, the Carlton Complex burned for over a month. It took four days for the fires to merge. Fire crews weren’t able to get a handle on the fire until rain moved into the area 10 days after it started.

The Okanogan Complex also burned for over a month. After 10 days of burning, crews were only able to contain the fire by 15%. Again, a change in weather helped fire crews get a handle on the fire.   

The Cold Springs Fire has only been burning for nearly two days, while the Pearl Fire has only been burning since Monday.