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Resources Become Scarce As Fire Season Heats Up

The Pacific Northwest fire season burns on, but officials say that the region is running out of resources to battle the latest blazes.

In fact, Wallowa County officials ordered residents of the Imnaha River corridor to be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice Tuesday.

The Five Mile wildfire just a mile south of Imnaha and the Somer wildfire in Hells Canyon Wilderness continue to burn toward the area, but only so many tankers and retardant planes are available. Combined, the fires cover more than 4,400 acres in eastern Oregon.

“The message from the regional forester’s office is, ‘You’ve probably got what you’ve got to work with. Smart fire fighting is going to be the key,’” said Noel Livingston, a fire staff member for the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, in an interview with the La Grande Oberserver.

Gov. John Kitzhaber declared a state of emergency last month and California Gov. Jerry Brown followed suit earlier this week.

But there won’t be any money or resources coming from Washington, D.C. any time soon.

Congress took its five-week summer break without voting on whether to provide $615 million in additional funding for wildfire fighting. Oregon Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden were advocates for the emergency wildlife suppression funds.

The congressional stalemate came during the same week that firefighters were battling 27 blazes in the West.

wildfire eastern Oregon

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