LOCAL NEWS

Biden administration approves major disaster declaration, wildfire aid for Washington

Feb 5, 2021, 8:36 AM
Malden, wildfire aid...
A service station that was destroyed by a wildfire is shown Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020, in Malden, Wash. High winds kicked up wildfires across the Pacific Northwest, burning hundreds of thousands of acres and mostly destroying the small town of Malden in eastern Washington state. (AP Photo/Jed Conklin)
(AP Photo/Jed Conklin)

Five months after a wildfire destroyed the towns of Malden and Pine City, President Joe Biden approved federal aid for the those communities and other areas of Eastern Washington that were burned by fires last year.

History in flames in Whitman County as fires decimate former railroad town, iconic bridge

More than 85% of the buildings in Malden and Pine City, both in Whitman County, burned to the ground in the Babb Road Fire in September 2020. The Department of Natural Resources also donated a surplus fire engine to Malden in December after the town’s fire station and its own fire engine was destroyed in the fire.

“I will never forget the devastation I saw first-hand in communities like Malden and Pine City — nor how frustrating it was to see federal aid withheld for so many months,” said Hilary Franz, commissioner of public lands, in a written statement. “While these communities are in the beginning phases of recovery, this long overdue support is a crucial step toward helping residents rebuild their lives and livelihoods.”

“While this relief is welcome news, it is also a reminder we need to do more to address our wildfire crisis,” Franz continued. “I urge the state Legislature to fully fund the wildfire response, forest restoration and community resilience work needed to fight, prevent, and recover from wildfires across our state.”

Gov. Inslee: Recent fires in Washington are ‘not natural,’ ‘not an act of God’

As a release from FEMA explains, federal disaster assistance for Washington is intended to supplement state, local, and tribal recovery efforts in the areas hit by wildfires last September. The approved federal funding is available on a “cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by wildfires and straight-line winds for Douglas, Franklin, Kittitas, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Skamania, Whitman, and Yakima counties and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation.”

There are also funds available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Governor Jay Inslee had previously requested federal disaster relief for this past summer’s wildfires, but an aide to a Spokane congresswoman told the Spokesman-Review that former President Trump withheld federal money because of his personal dislike of Gov. Inslee.

“No one should play politics with disaster relief,” said Senator Maria Cantwell in a written release. “Now it is time to help Malden rebuild with this disaster declaration, which makes FEMA resources available to communities to help rebuild things like roads, bridges, and power lines.”

Some residents say their clean-up and rebuilding has been on hold while they waited for the money.

The KIRO Radio Newsdesk contributed to this report.

Local News

hospitals...
Nicole Jennings

Rural Eastern Washington hospitals say no big losses in staffing post-vaccine mandate

Some of the rural Eastern Washington hospitals that were expected to have big losses after the vaccine mandate say things are going well.
10 hours ago
Climate Pledge Arena...
Associated Press

Climate Pledge Arena ready to get Kraken for hockey debut

The first event ever inside Climate Pledge Arena — whether it will be considered the official first event or not — was far from a soft opening.
1 day ago
Some of the located containers, captured by the US Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles helicopter....
KIRO 7 News Staff

Approximately 40 shipping containers adrift off Washington coast

Approximately 40 shipping containers were lost off a ship 43 miles west of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, according to the United States Coast Guard.
1 day ago
refugees...
Kathryn Altena

Gov. Inslee, Washington groups prepare to welcome Afghan refugees

In the coming months, 1,400 Afghan refugees are expected to pass through the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport upon their arrival in Washington.
1 day ago
King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski...
Nick Bowman

King County Councilmember accused of history of ‘verbally abusive’ behavior toward female staff

King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski is facing accusations detailing a history of verbally abusive behavior toward female staff members.
1 day ago
Microsoft campus, vaccine...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Racial harassment allegations at Microsoft campus construction site in Redmond

Racial harassment on the job — that’s what a Black construction employee says he was dealing with for months at the build site on Microsoft’s campus in Redmond.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Medicare open enrollment for 2022 starts Oct. 15 and SHIBA can help!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
...

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
...
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
...
Comcast

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Biden administration approves major disaster declaration, wildfire aid for Washington