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Rapid fire growth in Wash.

Winds whipped through northern Washington yesterday, putting fire crews on the defensive and prompting evacuations and road closures.

In the Okanogan Complex of wildfires, which includes four different wildfires, fires grew 16,000 hectares from Friday to Saturday, according to Todd Pechota, incident commander for the Okanogan Complex in a press conference Saturday morning.

The total area burning in the Okanogan Complex is 92,000 hectares.

Due to the chaotic and fierce nature of the fires yesterday, Pechota said they don’t know how many structures were lost to the fires, or how many people were evacuated, but there were no significant accidents or injuries.

“That’s considered a very good day considering the conditions,” Pechota said.

Three firefighters were killed on Wednesday fighting the Twisp River fire when the winds suddenly changed directions.

The weather in the area has calmed down this morning, with the heavy winds crews saw yesterday slowing.

Officials are optimistic this calming of the winds will help in getting a handle on the rapid growth they saw yesterday.

There are currently evacuation orders for the areas of Aeneas Valley, Conconully, Malott and Twisp Road.

The Okanogan Complex is approximately 35 kilometres from the Canadian border.

On Friday, President Barack Obama signed an emergency declaration, which orders federal aid to assist crews battling Washington fires.

The National Guard is in the area enforcing road closures and assisting with evacuations.

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