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President Declares Emergency In Washington State Due to Wildfires

President Obama declared an emergency in Washington state due to wildfires like this one near Holden.

President Obama Friday declared an emergency in Washington state because of wildfires, freeing up more federal aid.

The emergency declaration covers 11 counties and four Indian reservations in central and eastern Washington state. President Obama's signature authorizes more direct federal assistance besides firefighting and military assets already mobilized.

The state has requested experts to assist with restoring communication links, emergency power generation, crisis counseling and post-fire erosion control. Within hours, the Walla Walla District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deployed two specialists in emergency power.

The presidential emergency declaration does not include disaster relief for individuals, but that could yet come given the worsening scale of losses.

For now, some evacuees in Chelan and Okanogan Counties in particular don't even know if their homes or businesses have survived the wind-driven flames.

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.