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Washington Public Lands Commissioner visits Spokane County, evacuees, after fires hit the area

Washington, (Qnnflash) – Hilary Franz, the Commissioner of Public Lands in Washington state, took a poignant tour of a Spokane County evacuation center as several wildfires ravaged the region, displacing hundreds of individuals. Commissioner Franz’s visit to Medical Lake aimed to gain firsthand insight into the losses experienced by the affected community members. The tour encompassed the evacuation shelter, the city of Medical Lake itself, and crucial meetings with local officials, including Mayor Terri Cooper and Spokane County Commissioner Al French.

The initial point of interest for Commissioner Franz was the Red Cross evacuation shelter set up at Spokane Falls Community College. During her visit, she offered heartfelt hugs to the evacuees who had sought refuge at the shelter, some of whom had been displaced for up to three days due to the wildfires.

Commissioner Franz emphasized her desire to engage directly with those who had been profoundly impacted by the wildfires, sharing their stories and understanding the context of their experiences. She recounted an encounter with a man who had been abruptly awakened by law enforcement, instructing him to evacuate immediately. The commissioner highlighted the urgency and immediacy of the situation, reflecting on the harrowing speed at which lives can be disrupted.

Witnessing the extensive devastation caused by the fires, Commissioner Franz acknowledged the staggering toll the disaster had taken. Over 180 homes had been reduced to ashes, with even more trees consumed by the flames down to their roots. Reflecting on her tenure as Commissioner of Public Lands, Franz noted that this fire could be one of the most severe she has encountered.

In response to the crisis, Commissioner Franz informed the public that additional strike teams and aerial support units from across the state would be deployed to bolster firefighting efforts.

Mayor Terri Cooper of Medical Lake shared insights into the challenges her city faced as a result of the fires. Power outages impacted parts of the city, and a lack of water affected at least half of the population. Mayor Cooper outlined the community’s plan to conduct door-to-door checks to ensure that all residents had successfully evacuated the area, underscoring the urgency and necessity of prompt action.

As Washington state grapples with the devastating impact of wildfires, Commissioner Franz’s visit serves as a testament to the commitment of state officials to engage directly with affected communities, offer support, and coordinate resources to mitigate the effects of the disaster.

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