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What FEMA is doing to help tackle fires in the Pacific Northwest

Fires have been spreading across Western Washington Tuesday. (East Pierce Fire, Twitter)

Wildfires are raging across the Pacific Northwest, with smoke engulfing much of the state of Washington. What exactly is being done to tackle all the flames? FEMA Region 10 Administrator Mike O’Hare joined the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to discuss.

“These are unprecedented fire seasons we’re seeing in the Pacific Northwest, actually in the Pacific from California, Oregon, and Washington state. Some are being contained, and some are not. We saw that incredible wind system that happened over the weekend. It just took off. It was a perfect storm for fire season … Here in Washington, our thoughts and prayers go out to those that are impacted, those that have lost everything to those that are standing by for evacuation orders,” he said.

“FEMA is standing shoulder to shoulder and coordinating with the states of Washington and in Oregon in region 10 to support their needs, whether it be for life safety or working through the recovery process.”

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The Commissioner of Public Lands Hillary Franz noted recently that they don’t have the necessary resources, a sentiment which has been echoed from some fire departments. What exactly does FEMA do to coordinate these efforts to fight the flames?

“We have our fire management assistance grants that go out to the states to support the locally executed fire suppression. Those are resource dollars and authorization to get more resources to those fires that are threatening communities so that they don’t become devastating disasters. The critical resource is to get extra fire suppression teams and equipment and all those other resources to those firefighters that need them,” he said.

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“Then coordinating with the state to work through any needs for sheltering, sheltering management, getting extra supplies out there for those folks that are evacuated and need sheltering and housing and feeding and care.”

O’Hare says FEMA also tries to focus on mitigation efforts and education for families and communities.

“Our mission is to help people before, during and after disasters, and some of that help before disasters is in preparedness … and mitigation through a fire-wise program. How can we make our house safer for fires however they come? Whether we trim back trees and brush and fuels around the house to give ourselves a safe perimeter during fire season.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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