Wildfire response proposal passed by House

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Wildfire response proposal passed by House

The state House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill today that would require a variety of changes in how the state responds to wildfires. House Bill 2093 is a response to problems that occurred during the devastating Carlton Complex Fire last summer that burned 256,000 acres of land and destroyed more than 400 structures in Okanogan County.

Seventh District State Rep. Joel Kretz sponsored the legislation, which would:

  • allow locals to access state land to help put out a fire,
  • require the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to coordinate and share a list of locals who are qualified to fight fires and enter into agreements with them to use locals first during a fire, and
  • require the Commissioner of Public Lands to appoint both a fire liaison who will represent landowners and the public during a fire, and a Fire Advisory Committee to advise the commissioner on fire activities.

Rep. Kretz speaking on the passage of his wildfire response bill“These are important reforms to the way the state responds to wildfires, and will allow government and locals to work together to put out fires faster,” said Kretz, R-Wauconda. “The people in our area have more experience than most average citizens with preventing, controlling and putting out fires, and those skills should be used.”

Officials from Okanogan County traveled to Olympia to share their stories from the fire and desired changes to the state's management of state lands and wildfires. Kretz himself also helped fight the fire and observed many problems he shared with state officials and the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. Originally, the committee heard three separate bills. The bill passed today by the House combines those proposals into one.

“Bringing together the proposals into one allowed us to focus on one bill and moving that forward,” Kretz said. “I'm pleased the House passed this legislation, and look forward to passage by the Senate.”

The House passed the bill 97-0. It now goes to the Senate for further consideration. The 2015 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn April 26.


Washington State House Republican Communications