Hilary Franz (right) is doing her darnedest to give Washington more of a chance against the wildfires from hell. COURTESY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES
Smoke blotted out the sun for over a week last September. There was a run on air purifiers. For those of us who were less proactive, we kept our windows shut tight, favoring the stale, stifling indoor heat to the wall of ash outside. The city scrambled to find COVID-safe emergency shelters for the homeless. Our air quality hovered around "worst in the world" for days.
Throughout Washington, the situation was far worse. Hundreds of fires burned 800,000 acres, destroyed nearly 300 homes, and killed a civilian, a 1-year-old boy, for the first time in state history, according to Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz.
Fire seasons up and down the West Coast are out of control. In Washington, fire season is stretching on for longer and impacting more parts of the state. Each year, fires creep further west and closer to cities. Bonney Lake, right outside of Tacoma, was evacuated last year. The problem isn't going anywhere.
For the third year in a row, Franz is bringing a bill to the Washington state Legislature that will set aside $125 million every two years to shore up firefighting resources, maintain forests to keep fires under control, and equip with adequate defenses communities most likely to, uh, well, burn to the ground.
She's just asking the legislators to stop the Evergreen state from "turning charcoal black."
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