At least one person has been killed and some 200 homes lost in wildfires across Washington state, Gov. Jay Inslee told a news conference on Sunday, a day after he issued an emergency proclamation, according to the KHQ local news station.
The governor said about 35,000 acres are burning across the state, with some 20,000 of those concentrated in Spokane County, the worst hit area. He added that the fire spread some 7 miles the previous afternoon.
Inslee, a Democrat, said all the state’s resources are being used in order to minimize loss of life and destruction of property, but that there is a need to further bolster the ability to fight fires due to climate change, which is the main cause of these fires, as well as ones in many other regions worldwide.
In the Sunday news conference, officials said that the so-called Gray Fire in Spokane County was spread over some 10,200 acres and was 10% contained, a slight improvement over the day before.
In a video message posted late Saturday, the governor said, “As these fires rage in Spokane County, we want to thank the first responders who are doing such tremendous work in a coordinated effort. Thank them if you get a chance. We want people to be safe. This is our first priority, is saving lives; and we hope everybody will focus on that,” The Hill reported.
Inslee added that he has “spoken to the mayors of Medical Lake, Mayor [Terri] Cooper, and Mayor [Chris] Grover of Cheney, Sheriff [John] Nowels. They’ve assured me that the state is providing all the resources that they think could be brought to bear on this, but we’re going to continue to help in every way that we can.”
Washington Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman Isabelle Hoygaard said that the wildfire began on Friday about 15 miles west of Spokane before it expanded.