President Barack Obama on Friday signed an emergency declaration for Washington state as firefighters there struggled to tame at least a dozen wildfires, which had already consumed hundred of thousands of acres.
The declaration, which mobilizes FEMA and provides federal resources "is welcome news for the communities on the front lines battling the wildfires," said Gov. Jay Inslee in a statement. "The large number of wildfires in the Western United States has created a large scale fuel supply shortage for firefighting activities in Eastern Washington."
At least 16 massive fires have swept through 400,000 acres of Washington, according to the governor's office. More than 100 homes have been destroyed, and 5,000 remained under threat in eastern Washington alone.
In central Washington, three Washington firefighters were killed battling the Okanogan Complex Wednesday.
More than 800 firefighters continued the efforts Friday as the fire, near the towns of Twisp and Winthrop, continued to swell, reaching 124,083 acres, according to state officials. Firefighters feared the fire would continue to spread rapidly and erratically as winds were expected to gust up to 30 mph.
Washington isn't the only state on fire.
The wildfire outburst in the parched West has gotten so bad that more than 70 firefighting experts from Australia and New Zealand have been sent to provide assistance in California, Oregon and Washington. They are due to arrive Sunday.
More than 12,000 firefighters were working to contain 15 active wildfires across the California Friday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. A 60 square mile fire near Kings Canyon National Park, east of Fresno, prompted the evacuation of than 2,500 campers, hikers, employees and residents this week alone, according to The Associated Press.
A fire in northern Oregon grew to over 100 square miles on Friday. The fire, near the Warm Springs reservation, "has gone through changing levels of evacuations, and numerous challenges," according to an incident report. "With the weather conditions at the time, these fires quickly exceeded the capabilities of the local resources," the report said.
Colorado and Montana were also suffering from wind-whipped wildfires, and Idaho boasted the most in the nation Friday — with 19 active blazes.