State Update: Fires hold steady as victims get help
The state’s lead fire fighting agencies—the Department of Natural Resources (DNR)andthe State Fire Marshal’s Office of the Washington State Patrol (WSP)—continued to lead state government’s response today to multiple wildfires in central and eastern Washington today.
Okanogan County: Fires were cooler this morning on the Carlton Complex, but were bad yesterday as 41 homes were destroyed near Alta Lake. County emergency management estimates a total of 150-200 homes have now been destroyed in Okanogan County. The Carlton Complex has burned 299,897 acres. Brewster, Pateros, Twisp, Winthrop and other communities in the county are temporarily powering water systems and sewer services on generator. Two of the four gas stations in Winthrop have power now, making it less of a problem to gasoline and diesel fuel.
While Okanogan County has been the hardest hit due to the sprawling Carlton Complex, wildfires are also burning in Chelan, Grant, Kittitas, Lincoln, Spokane and Yakima counties.
- The Chiwaukum Complex has burned 11,051 acres and continues to grow.
o The Mills Canyon Fire, branch of the Chiwaukum, has burned 22,571 acres
- The Saddle Mountain Fire in Kittitas County has burned 20,200 acres but will demobilize at midnight.
- The Watermelon Hill Fire in Spokane County has burned 8,000 acres.
Other state activities
The Washington State Department of Transportation is working to keep roads open. The latest on road closures and openings is at http://www.wsdot.com/traffic/trafficalerts/default.aspx.
The Department of Commerce’s Energy Office says approximately 7,000 customers of the Okanogan PUD and Okanogan Electric Cooperative are without power. Power for feeders along Interstate and state highways and from there into Pateros and Winthrop is estimated to be restored by the end of week. It is estimated that full restoration along county roads and to individual homes and businesses in Okanogan will take several weeks.
The Washington National Guard has four Blackhawk helicopters, two fuel trucks and 21 personnel deployed to Carlton Complex. There are two Chinook helicopters, two fuel trucks and 17 personnel on the Mills Canyon Complex. An incident communications package staffed by five personnel is setting up at Omak. Having completed pre-mobilization preparations, 100 National Guard soldiers are standing by in Yakima to support Department of Natural Resources fire fighters. Through July 19, Guard helicopters dropped 400,440 gallons of water on fires.
Personnel from the Department of Health’s (DOH) Environment Public Health Division are consulting with wildfire-impacted counties about air quality and water quality issues. DOH and the Department of Ecology are partnering to analyze and monitor how smoke and ash are affecting air quality.
The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) deployed two trained crews with a total of 20 youths to support DNR firefighting efforts.DSHS and the American Red Cross are co-leading state-level mass care and emergency assistance efforts with support from FEMA Region 10.
The Department of Enterprise Services is assisting Okanogan County with a liaison to manage donations, and another liaison to support operations in the county’s emergency operations center in Omak.
Gov. Jay Inslee and Maj. Gen, Bret Daugherty from the Washington Military Department toured the Paschal-Sherman Indian Boarding School, a Bureau of Indian Affairs facility on the Colville Indian Reservation. The school is being considered for housing displaced individuals from the Carlton Complex fire, or National Guard and emergency services personnel supporting fire-fighting efforts.
Non-government agencies—The American Red Cross is operating shelters in Chelan, Omak and Winthrop and opening a shelter in Brewster tonight. The Red Cross and Southern Baptist Disaster Services began providing meals in Okanogan County today. The Red Cross is establishing a shelter in Brewster so residents from there will be closer to home. Many Brewster residents are currently using the shelter in the town of Chelan. The Chelan shelter will not close until people are no longer staying there. In coordination with the Red Cross, Okanogan County Health is contacting medical suppliers to ensure that Winthrop residents are able to get replacement oxygen bottles.
State agencies coordinate their support to the wildfire response through the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at Camp Murray. The Logistics Section of the State EOC is processing requests for generators from Pateros, Twisp and Winthrop. The three communities are already using back-up generators to power utility services and need more. A liaison from the State EOC’s Operations Section worked with utility officials in Okanogan County today as they assessed power requirements in Twisp and Winthrop.