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State seeks major disaster aid for fires

Estimates damage at $35 million

OLYMPIA - Central Washington families, businesses and governments need federal aid to help cover the losses from this summer’s wildfires, Gov. Jay Inslee said in a request to the federal government.

Inslee filed a formal request for a Major Disaster Declaration with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for Chelan and Okanogan counties and the Colville Reservation, areas hit by wildfires that include the Carlton Complex, which has burned the most acreage of any wildfire in state history.

This disaster declaration, if it is approved by President Barack Obama, would provide money for as long as 18 months for individuals displaced by fires; help with expenses to replace some personal property, travel, medical and dental costs not covered by individual insurance; unemployment payments to those left jobless by the fires; and make low-interest loans available through the Small Business Administration.

Before submitting the request, the state had to provide estimates of some of the damages. It estimated that at least 323 homes in Okanogan County had been destroyed and fires had caused some $35 million in damages.

As of Tuesday evening, the state was battling four active fires that covered some 275,000 acres. The larges was the Carlton Complex, which had reached 255,000 acres but was reported to be 90 percent contained.

An earlier request for federal aid to help fight the fires was approved last month when Obama issued an initial Emergency Declaration during a trip to Seattle after receiving a briefing on the fires from Inslee.