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Inslee declares state of emergency over wildfires

| August 19, 2020 2:30 PM

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Gov. Jay Inslee issued a statewide emergency proclamation on Wednesday because of multiple wildfires in Central and Eastern Washington, as well as the Olympic Peninsula.

“Wildfires are threatening the safety and livelihoods of Washingtonians all across the state,” Inslee said in a news release. “And the COVID-19 pandemic has put additional strain on our resources, as some of our usual support is further limited due to international movement restrictions.”

The National Interagency Fire Center said Wednesday that 17 large wildfires are currently burning in Washington and Oregon.

Firefighting resources throughout Washington have been spread thin and that has been compounded by extreme high temperatures and dry weather, as well as the increase of visitors to Washington wilderness areas, Inslee said.

The proclamation makes the Washington National Guard available statewide in response to a request from the state Department of Natural Resources to help protect homes, public facilities and utilities, businesses, agriculture and natural resources.

“We are so grateful to our partners at the National Guard who are answering the call and joining us on the fire lines,” Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz said in the news release. “We train with them prior to wildfire season and know the skill and abilities they bring to the wildfire emergency facing so many communities right now.”

The order remains in effect through Sept. 30.