State of emergency declared in 20 Washington counties over wildfire

 State of emergency declared in 20 Washington counties over wildfire

24 August 2016

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USA —  A state of emergency has been declared in 20 Eastern Washington counties where a growing number of wildfires were threatening people and property.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency on Tuesday after touring fires in the Spokane region.

“These fires threaten people, property and the natural resources of eastern Washington,” Inslee said in a statement.

“This proclamation frees up state resources so we can provide the assistance that these communities might need. This is a time for all Washingtonians to come together.”

The proclamation allows the use of the National Guard should local jurisdictions need more resources.

The fires have so far destroyed more than 25 buildings mostly in rural areas and were threatening hundreds more.

Weather officials have warned of hot and windy weather conditions during the next seven days.

Inslee said, “Our forests and wild lands are under attack from climate change,” which has caused “explosive conditions.”

In addition to Spokane, other counties being threatened include Adams, Asotin, Benton, Chelan, Columbia, Douglas, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Yakima, Walla Walla and Whitman.

In Lincoln and Stevens counties, some 15 square miles have been burnt and numerous homes on the Spokane Indian Reservation have been destroyed.

In central Washington, a large fire was threatening homes and prompted officials to evacuate residents. The Kahlotus blaze in Franklin is estimated to be more than 34 square miles, mostly in sageland.

Further south in California, multiple wildfires continued to challenge 10,000 firefighters throughout the state.

On Tuesday, California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Information declared that they contained the Blue Cut Fire, but fire personnel were still battling six major wildfires, including the Chimney Fire in San Luis Obispo County.

That inferno has already burned 53 structures and 37,101 acres in Central California near the Hearst Castle.

Conditions are deteriorating in California as the state is undergoing its fifth year of a record drought and is being hit by an extreme heat wave.

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