Washington wildfires: 1,500 firefighters on front lines of ‘one of the worst nightmares we can imagine’

09 September 2020

Published by https://www.q13fox.com/

USA – More than 587,000 acres have burned in Washington state since Monday, topping the half-a-million acres that burned in the state’s worst wildfire season in 2015.

Public Lands Commissioner Hillary Franz told Q13 News Wednesday morning that most of the state’s resources are focused on the largest fire – the Pearl Hill-Cold Springs wildfire near Omak in north central Washington. That fire has burned 163,000 acre and is 0 percent contained.

“This is one of the worst nightmares we can imagine,” Franz said.

The agency is also helping with the fires in Thurston County, Bonney Lake and Sumner that forced more evacuations overnight, but one of the biggest fires being monitored is in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Lewis County.

There are more than 1,500 firefighters on the firelines, and the National Guard has been called in to assist.

“We’re fighting the threat of wildfires in every corner of our state,” Franz said.

The state is also competing with California and Oregon for resources that are already stretched thin, a reality that Franz says highlights the need for our state to be better prepared.

“Our fire season starts way after (California and Oregon),” Franz said. “By that time most of those resources are sucked up.

“We continue to invest on the back end, in fighting flames and smoke, instead of investing up front, one in the forest health, to make our forests more naturally resilient to fires, and two, invest in our local and state firefighting agencies,” Franz continued.

Fortunately, no injuries or deaths have been reported, but Franz asked Washingtonians to keep firefighters in their prayers as they battle life-threatening fire conditions.

“Many of the firefighters are young, just out of high school,” Franz said. “They’re waking up, putting on gear and Covid masks in hot, dry conditions … It’s very dangerous. We need everybody’s prayers with these firefighters.”

Click here for full coverage of Washington’s wildfires.

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