OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee today proclaimed a state of emergency for 20 counties in response to multiple wildfires in Eastern Washington threatening homes, businesses, public infrastructure and natural resources. Inslee toured the Spokane-area fires this morning.
The proclamation covers Adams, Asotin, Benton, Chelan, Columbia, Douglas, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Yakima, Walla Walla and Whitman counties.
“These fires threaten people, property and the natural resources of Eastern Washington,” Inslee said. “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.”
Firefighters are battling multiple fires east of the Cascades, including six that started during the weekend. Additional fire protection crews have been mobilized to five other fires by state authorities. The fires have burned more than 25 structures and are threatening hundreds of others, prompting evacuations.
In the proclamation, Inslee noted hot and windy weather conditions are forecast for the next seven days. A lack of firefighting resources in the Pacific Northwest and western United States could also hamper firefighting efforts.
The proclamation directs state agencies to do everything reasonably possible to assist affected local governments in responding to and recovering from the fires, calls for staff at the State Emergency Operations Center to coordinate state firefighting efforts and allows the use of the Washington National Guard if local jurisdictions need more resources.
The State Emergency Operations Center was activated to a Level 1 status Tuesday morning. Center staff are monitoring the situation, working with affected communities to assess needs.
The Department of Natural Resources has banned outdoor fires on state-protected lands due to extreme conditions. Other local and federal agencies have instituted burn bans on lands under their jurisdiction.
Washington wildfire resources are available at http://www.governor.wa.gov/news-media/washington-wildfire-resources.