Wildfire Risk Prompts State Of Emergency Declaration For Washington

A helicopter uses a bucket to drop water on the Milepost 22 wildfire, Thursday, June 21, 2018, near Vantage, Wash. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/TED S. WARREN
A helicopter uses a bucket to drop water on the Milepost 22 wildfire, Thursday, June 21, 2018, near Vantage, Wash. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/TED S. WARREN

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The National Guard is gearing up to help fight wildfire in eastern Washington, and Governor Jay Inslee has declared a state-wide emergency. 

According to a statement from Governor Inslee, catastrophic wildfires outside Washington state – in California and Oregon – have put a strain on available resources. The governor’s emergency declaration allows for the state Department of Natural Resources to call on the National Guard for help. They’re staging two Blackhawk helicopters out of Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane. Five 20-member hand crews have already been deployed in northeastern Washington 

Jeff Cote, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Spokane, said current weather conditions are a “perfect storm” for increasing wildfire risk.

“Some lightning, without precipitation and then wind – all of those things just kind of mixed together and then drying out the fuels,” Cote said, “is kind of a perfect storm to bring us to extreme fire weather behavior or critical fire conditions,” he said. 

There’s no significant rainfall in the forecast, although temperatures should fall from triple digit highs over the next week. According to the DNR, 96 percent of the state is experiencing drought conditions.

Copyright 2018 Northwest News Network

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Oregon State University researcher Chris Dunn next to a Douglas fir, which burned in Oregon’s September 2020 fires and was later cut down by fire crews who considered it a safety hazard. CREDIT: Jes Burns/OPB

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