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World Vision responds to Washington state wildfires

By Chris Huber
Aug 27, 2015

Firefighters continued to battle massive wildfires in Washington state Aug. 28, which have killed three firefighters and destroyed dozens of homes and other structures. The Okanogan Complex fire, the state’s largest, has burned 292,512 acres—about 457 square miles—and is just 12 percent contained, the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center said in its Aug. 28 morning briefing.

Heavy smoke covered much of Eastern Washington, reducing visibility on roads and permeating clothing. Weekend weather forecasts called for scattered thunderstorms over Okanogan, which could slow the fires. 

Tired firefighters and displaced families have relied on relief supplies from community members and other groups from across the state.  

World Vision recently began distributing relief supplies to support workers fighting the wildfires and families affected throughout central and northeastern Washington. An Aug. 26 delivery included tents, sleeping mats, hygiene products, coolers, and other products at the Entiat Food Bank.  

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©2015 World Vision, Chris Huber
Entiat Food Bank volunteers help World Vision's Mike Wold, left, and Kevin Baza, unload relief supplies to support firefighters and families displaced by Washington wildfires. “One of the coolest things [in the shipment] are boxes of gum,” said Thad Huff, pastor of Open Life Church in Bonney Lake, Wash., which is working to deliver supplies from World Vision’s warehouse to weary firefighters in Chelan and Okanogan. “You’ve got to imagine what the firefighters are breathing in. Gum is not a necessity, but a blessing.”
©2015 World Vision, Chris Huber
Entiat Food Bank volunteer Kathy Litch tallies the weight and quantity of relief supplies World Vision delivered Aug. 26 to support firefighters and families affected by the wildfires. She reflected on the countless acts of compassion she's seen in response to the worst wildfire season in Washington's history. Just thinking about an elderly woman who recently came in to offer two bags of assorted supplies made her eyes well up. The woman had scraped together whatever things she could to help firefighters and families in her community affected by the immense fires. "You just tear up, that she made an effort to help," Kathy said as she watched a family affected by the recent Chelan fires collect supplies across the room at the Entiat Food Bank. "It's rewarding. You feel good at the end of the day, no matter how tired you are."
©2015 World Vision, Chris Huber
Food Bank workers wait at the front desk while another volunteer helps a family displaced by the Chelan fire collect food and other necessities.
©2015 World Vision, Chris Huber
Signs posted on the entrance to the Entiat Food Bank offer support and contacts for people affected by the wildfires.
©2015 World Vision, Chris Huber
Tents lie vacant at a city park in Entiat, Wash., while Army crews and firefighters battle blazes to the north. Heavy smoke settles over the Columbia River. About 1,300 people are working to contain the Okanogan Complex fires.