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Wildfire Risk Prompts Emergency Declaration For Washington State

File photo of the Chelan Hills Fire.
Inciweb -
File photo of the Chelan Hills Fire.

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

According to a statement from 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, 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

Emily Schwing
Emily Schwing comes to the Inland Northwest by way of Alaska, where she covered social and environmental issues with an Arctic spin as well as natural resource development, wildlife management and Alaska Native issues for nearly a decade. Her work has been heard on National Public Radio’s programs like “Morning Edition” and “All things Considered.” She has also filed for Public Radio International’s “The World,” American Public Media’s “Marketplace,” and various programs produced by the BBC and the CBC. She has also filed stories for Scientific American, Al Jazeera America and Arctic Deeply.