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Wash. homes destroyed in wildfire

Authorities say a wildfire in Washington has already burned about 100 homes and prompted evacuations.

Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

Authorities say a wildfire in Washington has already burned about 100 homes and prompted evacuations.

PATEROS, Wash. — A fire racing through rural north-central Washington destroyed about 100 homes, leaving behind smoldering rubble, solitary brick chimneys, and burned-out automobiles as it blackened hundreds of square miles in the Methow Valley.

Friday’s dawn revealed dramatic devastation, and the Okanagan County town of Pateros, home to 650 people, was hit especially hard. Most residents evacuated in advance of the flames, and some returned Friday to see what, if anything, was left of their houses. There were no reports of injuries, officials said.

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A wall of fire wiped out a block of homes on Dawson Street. David Brownlee, 75, said he drove away Thursday evening just as the fire reached the front of his home, which erupted like a box of matches.

‘‘It was just a funnel of fire,’’ Brownlee said. ‘‘All you could do was watch her go.’’

Next door, the Pateros Community Church appeared largely undamaged.

The pavement of US Highway 97 stopped the advance of some of the flames, protecting parts of Pateros.

Firefighters poured water over the remnants of homes Friday morning, raising clouds of smoke, steam, and dust. Two big water towers perched just above the town were singed black by the flames. The fire consumed utility poles from two major power lines, one feeding Pateros and the other feeding the towns of Winthrop and Twisp.

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