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The original item was published from 8/19/2023 1:04:28 PM to 8/27/2023 12:00:02 AM.

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Posted on: August 19, 2023

[ARCHIVED] Spokane County Declares State of Emergency in Response to Devastating Wildfires

SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. – Today at an emergency Noon meeting, the Spokane County Board of Commissioners approved and announced a county-wide emergency declaration that assists local efforts to respond to devastating wildfires affecting the West Plains and North Spokane communities.

The declarations are a procedural step that speed up the processes for the county and local organizations to rapidly deploy funding and resources; seek state and federal assistance when needed, and grant greater flexibility in response efforts.

“With today’s declaration, we are taking immediate action to respond to these devastating fires and address the urgent needs of residents in the affected communities. In the coming days, we will continue working side by side with local, state, and federal partners to respond to the impacts of these wildfires,” said Mary Kuney, Chair of the Board of County Commissioners, and representing District 4.

“Our hearts are with all of those in the West Plains who have lost homes, livelihoods, and their life because of the fast-moving Gray Fire. We are united and prepared to tackle what comes next together, as a community and a county, to help those affected by these destructive fires recover,” said Al French, Commissioner for District 5 which includes the West Plains.

“Today’s action will help ensure Spokane County receives the necessary resources to fight these fires. I have been amazed by the outpouring of support from our local community members. I have heard of many instances of heroic acts and compassion by neighbors helping neighbors escape from harm’s way due to the Oregon Road fire. We are a strong and resilient community and will get through this by continuing to work together,” said Josh Kerns, Vice Chair of the Board of County Commissioners, and representing District 3 which includes Elk and North Spokane County.

“I want to thank our first responders for their hard work, the Spokane County emergency coordination personnel, and the Red Cross and community volunteers. With strong coordination of state and local resources, I’m hopeful the Gray Fire and the Oregon Road fire can be contained soon without any more loss of life and property. My heart hurts for those who have lost so much. Please stay vigilant and safe,” said Amber Waldref, Commissioner for District 2.

“I add my heartfelt thanks to all of the firefighters and first responders who are in the field and helping coordinate the massive response effort. It is encouraging in times like these to see the community rally around each other, and come together for the common good. As the scale and gravity of this disaster becomes clearer in the days ahead, we will seek additional resources and assistance from the state and federal governments as necessary,” said Chris Jordan, Commissioner for District 1.

For those evacuated and needing shelter, the Red Cross has opened shelters to offer support:

Spokane Falls Community College, 3410 W Whistalks Way Spokane, WA 

Riverside High School, 4120 E Deer Park Milan Road Chattaroy, WA

Individuals can contact the Red Cross for assistance at: (509) 326-3330 or RedCross.org.

The Spokane County Fairgrounds and Expo Center are open for those needing to shelter large animals or livestock from evacuated areas.

Residents can also find more information at the Spokane County Emergency Management website and Facebook page, as well as the Washington Department of Natural Resources Wildfire Incident Command website. Spokane County Emergency Management maintains an alert system, Alert Spokane, that members of the public may register to receive fire and other emergency alerts.

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