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Washington fire destroys 300 homes, sheriff says

Wildfire was started by lightning and has burned about 400 square miles in forested mountain area

A sheriff in Washington State said Friday that a massive wildfire has burned 300 homes, double the number previously estimated.

Frank Rogers, the sheriff of Okanogan County in north-central Washington, said the Carlton Complex of fires has consumed about 300 homes this month. His office previously placed the number at 150, but he said then he knew it would rise because officials had note been able to reach some burned areas.

Rogers said he and his deputies have driven 750 miles of roadway through the devastated area, and "every road lost something." He said that the blackened area looks like a moonscape, and that he has seen hundreds of dead livestock.

The fire was started by lightning and has burned about 400 square miles in the area about 100 miles northeast of Seattle.

Fire crews have reported good progress in the last few days, with cooler weather and rain helping in getting the fire a little more than half contained. Local news channel Kiro TV reported the fire had been 55 percent contained by Friday afternoon.

Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday extended a burn ban for dry eastern Washington for one more week. The ban had been set to end Friday. He also said that the state would waive permit requirements for anyone in the affected areas who wants to use extra-large generators because they remain without power.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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