Published On: Fri, Aug 21st, 2015

The Latest: ‘No idea’ yet on damage from Washington fires

Share This
Tags
Firefighters line up to get gear out of the back of a fire truck as they get ready to head out onto a line Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, in Twisp, Wash. Authorities say three firefighters died after their vehicle crashed and was apparently caught by a "hellstorm" of flames as they battled a blaze in the state. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Firefighters line up to get gear out of the back of a fire truck as they get ready to head out onto a line Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, in Twisp, Wash. Authorities say three firefighters died after their vehicle crashed and was apparently caught by a “hellstorm” of flames as they battled a blaze in the state. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

TWISP, Wash. (RNS) — The latest on wildfires in Washington state, including those that killed three firefighters (all times local):

10:50 a.m.

Out-of-control blazes in north-central Washington have destroyed buildings, but the situation is so chaotic that authorities have “no idea” how many homes may have been lost.

Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said Friday that “we have lost them, but I don’t know how many.”

The complex of fires that killed three firefighters earlier this week has blown up, growing more than 100 square miles in a day to 252 square miles.

A National Weather Service warning of extreme fire danger was set to expire at 5 p.m. Friday, which may bring some relief to firefighters.

Despite the growth, mandatory evacuations for the small towns of Twisp and Tonasket have been reduced. Residents of those towns can return to their homes but were warned to be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice.

___

10:15 a.m.

President Barack Obama has signed an emergency declaration authorizing federal help for the massive wildfires burning out of control in Washington state.

Obama on Friday declared an emergency and authorized the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts.

The order covers 11 counties in central and eastern Washington as well as the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, the Kalispel Tribe of Indians, the Spokane Tribe of Indians, and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakima Nation.

___

8:36 a.m.

A massive complex of blazes that killed three firefighters in north-central Washington state has grown by more than 100 square miles in a day.

Fire spokesman Rick Isaacson said early Friday that the wildfires have grown to just over 252 square miles since Thursday morning. He says they are largely burning uncontrolled as flames keep jumping fire lines.

Isaacson says officials don’t know how many homes or other buildings have been destroyed. They have ordered the partial evacuation of the town of Okanogan, which has 2,500 residents.

Isaacson says even the fire base camp in Okanogan has been told to be prepared to evacuate.

There were 820 firefighters fighting the blazes Friday, two days after flames overran firefighters, killing three and injuring four.

___

7:50 a.m.

A multitude of large wildfires burning across arid Washington state have so overtaxed firefighters that officials took the unprecedented step of calling for volunteers to help fight the flames.

The state Department of Natural Resources said late Thursday that it would review civilians’ offers to help and send them where they would be most useful. Volunteers could start applying Friday at centers in the communities of Omak and Colville.

It is the first time the state has asked for volunteers as an explosive fire season has led to the deaths of three firefighters and the evacuation of entire towns.

It comes even after fire managers from Australia and New Zealand were recruited to help combat blazes in the West.

 

Comments

comments

About the Author