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Gov. Inslee : State ready to help counties grappling with wildfires

KOMO-TV Seattle logo KOMO-TV Seattle 9/9/2020 Keith Eldridge, KOMO News reporter
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As wildfires continued to grow in Washington state, Gov. Jay Inslee said Tuesday that he stands ready to send in more National Guard troops to help counties struggling to contain the blazes.

“This is an unprecedented and heartbreaking event,” Inslee said, pointing to fires and hot, dry, windy conditions on both sides of the state that have fueled the blazes.

He singled out Malden, which is located south of Spokane and has been hard hit by fire.

“I just talked to the mayor and city council who told me it looked like a bomb had gone off. They lost their post office, their fire station, their city hall, their library and most of their homes," Inslee said. "We want the folks in Malden to know we stand with you.”

a man wearing a suit and tie © Provided by KOMO-TV Seattle
Caption: Gov. Jay Inslee held a news conference to discuss the state's response to wildfire that have broken out.

The state's strong gusty winds have helped to push the year's wildfires faster and further, but they also don't allow for fire crews to attack the blaze from the air. 

“My heart goes out to all of the families displaced by the wildfires yesterday,” said Hilary Franz, state commissioner of public lands, adding that officials do not believe the fires were ignited by cloud-to-ground lightning so they believe the fires resulted from human activity.  “We right now don’t know enough, and that’s not unusual. It takes time for us to do the full investigation. Obviously, our first paramount responsibility right now is getting control of these fires and putting them out.”

Inslee linked climate change to what is happening now.

“This is not your old Washington," he said. "We now live in a climate change world, and this vegetation which used to have a little humidity in it, just doesn’t have it anymore. So, it’s much more explosive and incendiary."

Franz said she plans to travel to Malden on Wednesday while Inslee said he is scheduled to visit there on Thursday to view the devastation and see what the state can do to help.

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