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Wildfire near Wenatchee threatens more than 1,500 homes

July 15, 2021 GMT

WENATCHEE, Wash. (AP) — A wildfire threatening more than 1,500 homes near Wenatchee, Washington, grew to 17 square miles (44 square kilometers) by Thursday afternoon and was about 10% contained, the Washington state Department of Natural Resources said.

About 200 firefighters are battling the Red Apple Fire near this north-central Washington city renowned for its apples. The fire was threatening homes, apple orchards and an electrical substation, but no structures have been lost, officials said.

“Our focus is on structure protection,” said Ryan Rodruck, a spokesman for DNR on the fire.

Chelan County sheriff’s deputies executed a search warrant at a home Wednesday believed to be connected to the start of the wildfire. No details were released and the cause remains under investigation.

The fire started Tuesday evening and is burning grass and sage near US Highway 2.

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Residents of more than 1,500 homes were under various evacuation notifications Wednesday, according to the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office.

The Washington state Department of Transportation closed a four-mile stretch of US 97A just north of Wenatchee due to fire activity for most of Wednesday. The roadway fully reopened on Thursday morning.

Chelan County declared a state of emergency because of the fire burning between Wenatchee and Cashmere, Washington.

Wendy Bowman told KING-TV of Seattle that she has been nervously watching the hillsides above her home as the flames creep closer. “Right away, when we saw the fires we started to pack up stuff because if we get an ember on this dry land it’s going up quick,” Bowman said.

The fire is one of several burning in Washington, stoked by high temperatures and dry vegetation that have prompted a statewide burn ban.