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Fire officials said Sunday afternoon that smoke was lifting over the Okanogan Complex fire.
Spokeswoman Suzanne Flory said visibility and air quality have improved, and fire activity had not heated up.
Flory said smoke often works as a cap on fire activity and when it lifts, the humidity goes down, temperatures go up and often fire activity increases.
Fire officials won't know until late Sunday or early Monday how much the Okanogan Complex of fires grew Sunday. The fires had burned more than 375 square miles by Sunday morning, and the fires were about 10 percent contained.
A new firefighting mobilization center is being set up at Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane to help fight wildfires in Washington state. The base will be the staging area for 20 large fire engines and 10 water tankers and will be run by a team from San Diego.
The new firefighting resources come a day after the Obama administration approved Gov. Jay Inslee's request for a federal emergency declaration to help firefighting efforts in Eastern Washington.
Inslee's office says the new fire engines are coming from Utah, Nevada, Arizona and Colorado.
"We give continued thanks to all the volunteers and firefighters working hard to fight these fires and protect our families," Inslee said via Facebook. "Continue to stay alert, heed evacuations notices and above all, be safe."
Sixteen large wildfires are burning across Central and Eastern Washington, covering more than 920 square miles. Thousands of structures remain threatened.
Officials say three firefighters injured near Twisp on Wednesday are recuperating at home after being released from the hospital. A fourth injured firefighter is being treated at a hospital in Seattle. Three others were killed in the fire.
An additional 200 Guardsmen arrived Sunday, bringing the total to 700 members of the Washington National Guard.
Guardsmen from Colorado National Guard, Minnesota National Guard and Wyoming National Guard have mobilized Blackhawk helicopter teams, joining Washington for a total of 10 helicopters.
Firefighters from New Zealand and Australia were expected to arrive in the Northwest on Sunday.
The National Interagency Fire Center said Australia and New Zealand have been key partners with the U.S. fire community for more than 50 years but were last mobilized in 2008 when severe fire activity was similar to this year.
The contingent from Australia and New Zealand is expected to arrive in Boise for a one-day induction to learn about current fire behavior, fuels and weather conditions. Upon completion of the orientation, they will be assigned to large fires.
"We are very appreciative of the Australian and New Zealand firefighters for their availability to assist us with our current fire situation," said Aitor Bidaburu, Chair of National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group. "We currently remain at National Preparedness Level 5, our resources are fully committed and there are no season-ending weather events in the foreseeable forecast. Because of the current level of commitment and forecast, having fire management expertise from Australian and New Zealand firefighters will be of tremendous help as we continue suppressing ongoing fires."
The State Department of Natural Resources said today that they have been nearly overwhelmed by the number of volunteers with skills that are not currently needed.
They currently only need people with a current red card or who own and operate equipment such as dozers, water tenders, etc.). They will offer blue card classes to equipment operators. How to volunteer
Red Cross shelters
Sterling Intermediate School, 600 N. James, East Wenatchee
Brewster Middle/High School, 503 S. 7th Street, Brewster
Columbia High School, 4961 Hunter Shop Rd., Hunters
Lake Roosevelt High School, 500 Civic Way, Coulee Dam
Loon Lake Elementary School, 4001 Maple St., Loon Lake
Republic Elementary School, 30306 Hwy 20 E, Republic
Morgen Owings Elementary School, 407 E. Woodin Ave, Chelan
Grace Evangelical Free Church, 851 S. Miner St., Colville
Social media has been key for emergency managers to get the word out quickly this week. A common phrase seen on many posts regarding evacuations is "Do not wait for door-to-door notification."
Okanogan County officials say there are several ways to stay up-to-date:
- If you have general fire emergency questions, call 509-422-7348. For Spanish speakers, call 509-422-2422 or check their Spanish language Facebook page.
- Follow updates on Twitter at @okanogandem.
- Sign-up for the Okanogan County Citizen Emergency Alert System.
American Red Cross For emotional support, call 1-800-985-5990