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Boys' Campfire Destroys Expensive Dwellings in Town East of Seattle

September 28, 1992|DOUG CONNER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SEATTLE — A boys' campfire that jumped out of control wiped out 20 houses and 12 apartment units in an affluent hillside neighborhood in Wenatchee, Wash., over the weekend.

Strong winds of up to 60 m.p.h. fanned the flames Saturday as they also charred 3,500 acres of grass and sagebrush. But the winds died down on Sunday and the blaze was contained by noon. No deaths or serious injuries were reported in the community of 22,000 people, about 100 miles east of Seattle.

Five-hundred firefighters battled the blaze, which apparently started when three boys built an illegal campfire on a hillside, said Greg Thayer, a spokesman for the Fire Control Center. The boys were interviewed by authorities and released to their parents.

Scott Lowers, a spokesman for the Chelan County Department of Emergency Management, said the fire scene "looks like a war zone. In some areas there is absolutely nothing left."

On Sunday, firefighters maintained a patrol in the ravaged neighborhood for new flare-ups and for any residents who might have been caught up in the fast-moving blaze. A Red Cross shelter was set up in a local high school.

No dollar estimate of the damage was available yet, but costs were expected to run high because of the upscale character of the neighborhood.

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