SEATTLE, Aug. 20 (UPI) — Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington state, has asked President Barack Obama on Thursday to declare a federal emergency in the state as it fights wildfires that have killed at least three firefighters.
Inslee’s request was delivered through Ken Murphy, the regional administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, otherwise known as FEMA. The governor declared a state of emergency on June 26, anticipating a damaging wildfire season.
“The state is requesting specialized resources to assist with potential life-saving and property protection activities to lessen the threat of further wildfire impacts,” Insleewrote in the request.
Three firefighters were killed and at least three were injured Wednesday when a wildfire suddenly shifted direction and lashed back at them, as the blaze quickly grew to more than a thousand acres.
Officials said more than 1.1 million acres of land have been destroyed so far bywildfires burning in the western United States — involving those in California, Idaho, Montana and Washington.
Oregon, Washington’s neighbor to the south, has also struggled to get a handle on wildfires this summer. Recently, the state took the unprecedented step of banning all burning on state-owned land — including candles.
The Department of Defense said Tuesday that it is prepared to mobilize 200 active-duty service members to help fight the fires — the first time it has taken that step in nearly a decade.
Danielle Haynes and Doug G. Ware contributed to this report.