Washington wildfire leads to ammonia leak

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A wildfire burned out of control late Sunday, June 28, 2015, in central Washington, forcing residents in hundreds of homes to evacuate, authorities said. At least a dozen homes have been destroyed, said Rich Magnussen with the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office.

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WASHINGTON — A wildfire in central Washington state has created a new threat — an ammonia leak — after embers caught a recycling plant on fire.

Emergency management officials in Chelan County, Washington, issued an alert Monday for residents living up to half a mile south of the recycling plant to shelter in place.

The Blue Bird recycling facility is in Wenatchee, where a raging wildfire has damaged more than 20 homes and burned thousands of acres. It also has forced residents in hundreds of homes to evacuate, authorities said.

The alert for those living near the recycling plant calls for residents to stay indoors, shut windows and doors, shut off air conditioning units and monitor media for news.

Smoke has been rising from the Blue Bird facility all Monday morning.

The fire began Sunday afternoon outside Wenatchee but was burning within the city limits late Sunday night, Rich Magnussen of the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office said.

Officials are referring to it as the Sleepy Hollow Fire because the blaze started on Sleepy Hollow Road.

The fast-moving fire “significantly damaged” an estimated 24 to 28 homes, Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kuntz said.

The cause of the fire was uncertain, but temperatures in the region have topped 100 degrees Fahrenheit for days, and rainfall has been scarce.

About 3,000 acres had burned as of Monday, according to the Chelan County Fire Department.

Several firefighters suffered minor injuries, including smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion, while battling the blaze, the department said.

“My thoughts and prayers are with Wenatchee this morning,” Washington Gov. Jay Islee said in a statement Monday. “Yet again, our state is experiencing a catastrophic wildfire that has displaced families and shut down businesses, as well as risked the lives of our firefighters and emergency personnel.”

 

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