Obama declares wildfire emergency in Washington state

The fires have been so severe that President Barack Obama on Friday approved an emergency declaration granting additional resources to fight dozens of fires across the state, where three firefighters were killed this week in one blaze.

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They will supplement 32 firefighters, including three wildfire truck crews, dispatched by the Christie Administration over a week ago.

The South Australians leave Adelaide on Saturday to join up with the rest of the Australian contingent.

“We now remain at National Preparedness Level 5, our resources are fully committed and there are no season-ending weather events in the foreseeable forecast”, National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group chair Aitor Bidaburu said in a statement.

Some 71 firefighters and other personnel had been requested, although the final details were still being worked out, the center said.

One concern is communication between the military and other fire crews.

While air quality in Spokane was rated “good” or “moderate” for most of the day, cities where it was considered “unhealthy” or “very unhealthy” included Yakima, Ellensburg, Twisp, Winthrop, Pullman, Clarkston – even as far west as Marysville, according to the state Department of Ecology.

Out-of-control blazes in north-central Washington have destroyed buildings, but the situation is so chaotic that authorities have “no idea” how many homes may have been lost.

In addition to activating the National Guard to fight fires in both states, a reciprocity agreement with Australian fire officials will bring qualified fire line supervisors from down under to the Pacific Northwest in the next several days, Eagle said.

More than 11,000 firefighters are on the ground in California, trying to put out 16 active fires, mostly in the northern part of the state. She says some people have been getting in the way of firefighting operations.

With wildfires ravaging the western United States and overwhelming firefighters, fire officials are calling on colleagues from the other side of the globe for relief.

Friday’s strong winds pushed the Okanogan complex wildfires to spread.

The three were U.S. Forest Service firefighters and members of a highly-trained unit that was sent ahead to evaluate the fire.

The county is where the three firefighters died.

What’s happening with the Okanogan Complex Fire?

“We anticipate the fire weather today will be worse than it was yesterday”, wildfire incident commander Chris Schulte said Thursday.

“It was pretty quiet today”, said Rick Isaacson, a spokesman for crews battling the more than 1,100 square miles burned in the Okanogan Complex.

Puyallup resident Daniel Lyon, 25, remains critical in intensive care at Harborview, with burns over 60 percent of his body.

Washington state, while it has seen some of the West’s most intense fire activity of the past week, is not alone in battling blazes.

With the smoke now affecting the most populated areas of the state, health officials are warning people to take precautions. It is one of 15 wildfires burning across California.

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The crews were in the Methow River valley in two vehicles and on foot when the flames raced toward them.

Forest Service truck drives near a hillside