Friday, August 21, 2015
Right now, there are 66 weather alert items on the homepage of KREM 2 news: wind advisories for Chelan, Douglas and Okanogan counties — some of the hardest hit by the still out-of-control fires burning in the past week (this map shows where all active fires are located) — as well as the ever-present fire weather warnings for basically all of the Inland Northwest, along with blowing dust advisories and poor air quality alerts. The entire region is under a red flag warning, currently in effect until 11 pm tonight, with wind gusts in the Okanogan Valley predicted up to 45 mph.
President Obama this morning signed a Declaration of Emergency for all of Washington state, which sends federal aid our way via FEMA. There's no way around it — the outlook right now, and through this weekend, is bleak. Some are even comparing the current situation to the Great Idaho Fire disaster that happened 105 years ago yesterday, on Aug. 20, 1910, that scorched 3 million acres in two days, killed 87 firefighters and destroyed five towns.
As unnerving as it is also inspiring, the Washington state Department of Natural Resources has put out a call — for the first time in state history — for volunteer citizens to help on the fire lines.
While many of us are protected by the concrete embrace of the city, it's too easy to feel helpless or guilty that we aren't able to help stop this unprecedented modern disaster. From monetary donations to disaster relief organizations like the local Red Cross chapters, to dropping off supplies to give our hard-working firefighters' what little relief we can, Inlander staff have complied a list of resources and ways we can all help out during this troubling time:
Where to donate monetary support: