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Gov. Inslee declares state of emergency over Washington wildfires

The proclamation makes the Washington National Guard available statewide to assist with fighting wildfires.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has issued a statewide emergency proclamation because of multiple wildfires in central and eastern Washington, as well as the Olympic Peninsula.

"Wildfires are threatening the safety and livelihoods of Washingtonians all across the state," Gov. Inslee said in a statement Wednesday. "And the COVID-19 pandemic has put additional strain on our resources, as some of our usual support is further limited due to international movement restrictions."

Firefighting resources throughout the state have been spread thin due to commitments to pre-existing and projected fire activity, according to a press release from the governor's office. 

The current wildfire emergency is also compounded by the extremely high temperatures and dry weather, as well as an increasing number of visitors to Washington wilderness areas.

Last Sunday was the hottest day of the year, with Seattle hitting 98 degrees.

The National Interagency Fire Center said Wednesday that 17 large wildfires are currently burning in Washington and Oregon. The proclamation makes the Washington National Guard available statewide in response to a request from the state Department of Natural Resources.    

"Due to hot, dry conditions and lighting storms, we have fires burning across Washington and existing firefighting resources are at capacity," said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz. "We are so grateful to our partners at the National Guard who are answering the call and joining us on the fire lines. We train with them prior to wildfire season and know the skill and abilities they bring to the wildfire emergency facing so many communities right now." 

The order will remain in effect through September 30.

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