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President Obama signs emergency declaration to help fight fires, aid victims

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President Obama waves to crowd after landing at Boeing Field for a four-hour trip to the Seattle area. (Photo: KCPQ-TV)

WASHINGTON — President Obama declared Wednesday a state of emergency exists in Washington, opening a pathway for the state and local governments to receive federal funds and aid to help battle and recover from devastating wildfires.

The president’s action authorizes the Federal Emergency Managment Agency (FEMA) to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which can help those affected by the fire.

Obama signed the declaration to “lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the counties of Chelan and Okanogan and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation,” a release Wednesday read.

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.   Emergency protective measures, limited to direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent federal funding.

The declaration comes as rains helped contain the more than five fires burning east of the Cascades. At last check, the state’s largest fire, the Carlton Complex Fire, had burned more than 250,000 acres and was considered the largest in the state’s history.

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