(Olympia, WA) A state of emergency was proclaimed today for Kittitas and Yakima counties to make available additional fire fighting resources to contain the Taylor Bridge Fire. The proclamation is in response to a specific request from the Department of Natural Resources which handles statewide wildfire efforts. DNR requested air support from the Washington National Guard to assist in containment efforts. The Taylor Bridge Fire in Kittitas County has scorched more than 20,000 acres, destroyed approximately 60 structures and forced approximately 900 residents to evacuate the area. Yakima County has declared a Stage 1 Burn Ban for the upper and lower county areas due to residual smoke originating from the Kittitas wildfire.
“I have requested that the Emergency Management Department and the Washington State Patrol continue to make this firefighting effort a priority and provide the resources that the Department of Natural Resources needs to carry out its job,” said Gov. Chris Gregoire. “DNR notified us today that access to Washington National Guard helicopters would assist in their efforts and this proclamation makes available those resources.”
Gregoire is closely monitoring the fire, is in contact with all response agencies, and directed her staff in the preparation of the proclamation which was signed by Lt. Gov. Brad Owen due to his status by law as acting governor when Gregoire is out of state. The proclamation directs state agencies “to do everything reasonably possible to assist affected political subdivisions in an effort to respond to and recovery from” the events in Kittitas and Yakima counties.
Starting yesterday state agencies began mobilizing in response to the fire. The Washington State Military Department has activated the State Emergency Operations Center, implemented response procedures, and is coordinating resources to alleviate immediate impacts to people, property, and infrastructure. The Washington State Patrol also approved a fire mobilization request on the afternoon of August 13, 2012.
With hot and dry temperatures expected to remain, air quality is also a concern.
“People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid exertion and—I can’t emphasize this enough—check with their health care professional if they begin to have difficulty breathing,” said Gregoire. “Everyone else in poor air quality areas should limit their outdoor activity to get through this safely.”