Washington state declares wildfire emergency
A GROWING number of wildfires were threatening people and property in the western United States, with the governor of Washington state declaring a state of emergency in 20 counties.
“These fires threaten people, property and the natural resources of eastern Washington,” Governor Jay Inslee said in a statement on August 23.
“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.”
The fires in the largely rural areas of the state have destroyed more than 25 buildings and threatened hundreds more, triggering evacuations, Mr Inslee said.
They included the Cherry Road Fire, which has charred 12,800 hectares and is 50 percent contained, while the Kahlotus Fire has burned 8000ha and was 19pc contained.
The Spokane Complex fire was threatening 167 residences, with two damaged and 12 destroyed.
Mr Inslee noted weather conditions in the next seven days will be hot and windy, hampering efforts by firefighters who are already short-handed.
Further south along the Pacific coast, 10,000 firefighters were battling six gigantic wildfires raging out of control in California.
In some positive news, the Blue Cut Fire in San Bernardino County, just 100 kilometres from Los Angeles, was contained on August 23.
It has forced the evacuation of more than 82,000 people, snarling traffic as highways across the region were closed.
The monster blaze has burned through 14,700ha, destroying 321 buildings including 105 homes. That makes it the 20th most destructive fire in California history, according to Cal Fire. –