Opinion

Wildfires cause need

The fires tearing through our state tripled in size over the weekend. On Sunday, it became the largest wildfire in the history of our state as 300,000 acres — the equivalent of 470 square miles and counting have burned so far —  stretching from Kittitas County to Okanogan County and even further east to Spokane County. Some 5,000 people are on the fire lines.

As of this writing, a single death has been attributed to the fire, a testament to how seriously the folks who live east of us understand the danger and unpredictability of fire. However, hundreds upon hundreds of people have been displaced from their homes. Businesses stand to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue when visitors stay home because of the smoke. Farmers and ranchers have lost valuable grasslands and crops to fire. Entire communities are without electricity — and will be for some time — as power lines have been destroyed by flames. Many affected are individuals and families already in need.

These fires are not that far away geographically speaking. How many of us have spent summer days on Lake Chelan or spent a weekend in Leavenworth? There is little doubt that Washington state apples, pears or cherries are stashed in our refrigerators at home.

Over here, we have other worries. We have floods and earthquakes to fret over and traffic. Yet, the damage caused by fires both here in our state and across the West, is worsening and more and more people are in harm’s way.

It is likely that the humanitarian response to the fires will not be the same as when residents of the tiny community of Oso were swept away without warning in a devastating mudslide. The horror of that event will not leave us for a long time.  Fires perhaps, are just not that unusual and are too big or too diffuse to focus our concern. Yet, the losses felt by the people in their midst cannot be discounted in any way, shape or form. Let’s see what we can do for them.

The best way to help is to visit Okanogan County Community Action Council at www.facebook.com/okcommunityaction or call 509-422-4041. Donations can also be made to American Red Cross. Visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-donate to donate to the Apple Valley Chapter based in Wenatchee.

 

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