- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 4, 2015

LUCERNE, Wash. (AP) - The wildfire along Lake Chelan continued to grow Tuesday and spew smoke across parts of eastern Washington.

The blaze grew by about 1,200 acres and covered 25,634 acres - or 40 square miles - by Tuesday morning, fire spokesman Bill Queen said. It is being fought by 257 firefighters and has destroyed one structure.

“We’ve got a westerly flow of wind that is going to carry smoke in an easterly direction,” Queen said of smoke that plagued communities from Chelan to Spokane.

The wildfire started June 29 from lightning in remote timber and grass on the west side of the popular lake. It grew over the weekend amid hot, dry weather and down-lake winds. Several hundred people evacuated from a Lutheran retreat center and the Holden Mine Remediation Center on Saturday.

The blaze also shut down a section of the Pacific Crest Trail and several campgrounds.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service issued a red-flag warning for much of eastern Washington, effective through Tuesday evening. The warning means winds could combine with low humidity to sharply increase fire danger.

The state Department of Natural Resources increased the fire danger from very high to extreme for Spokane and parts of Lincoln and Stevens counties on Tuesday. The danger was raised to very high in Pend Oreille and most of Stevens County, and remained at that level in Okanogan and Ferry counties.

In the wildfire along Lake Chelan, about 350 people had evacuated from Holden Village, Lucerne and surrounding areas by Monday afternoon. Authorities were developing evacuation plans for the Stehekin area if the fire moved in that direction.


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