You don’t really realize the extent of the devastation until you see it from the air”
-Spokane County Commissioner Al French
Two major wildfires have left Spokane County with severe emergency housing challenges. At a special briefing, Commissioners learned over 100 people are still in emergency shelters, and are in need of temporary housing. Additionally, the number of homes and buildings damaged or destroyed continues to rise. At last check, fire damaged or destroyed 366 homes and consumed 344 other structures.
At an emergency meeting, Commissioners learned that, at best, based on other fires in our region, it will take three years to fully recover – even longer. For example, builders just finished completing the very last home lost in the 2014 Carlton Complex Fire in Central Washington. “Everyday something new comes up,” said Spokane Commissioner Josh Kerns.
Once crews can move into a mop-up phase, a better damage assessment can be done. Early fire damage estimates and fire suppression efforts could put the combined cost of these two fires up to half a billion dollars.
Among the emergency housing provisions being considered:
Fire victims will also see mortgage cost increases as replacement mortgages come at a much higher rate than the one they had previously. Spokane County Assessor Tom Konis has announced the county is making property tax relief available to those suffering from destroyed property because of the Gray and Oregon Road fires.
Additionally, Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued an emergency order requiring all property and casualty insurers to provide additional protections for policyholders impacted by the Gray and Oregon Road fires. “We’ve all seen the devastation caused by the ongoing wildfires in Eastern Washington,” said Kreidler. “People are worried about their own and their families’ safety and protecting their property. I don’t want them to have to worry about losing their insurance coverage while the emergency is ongoing and the difficult recovery for the community begins.”
The emergency order, made possible by Gov. Jay Inslee’s emergency declaration, applies to homeowners, renters, auto, and commercial insurance policies in areas affected by wildfires and extends until Oct. 17, 2023. The order directs companies to:
Moving forward, the Governor’s Office is working to make emergency needs and restoration funds available thorough the Department of Commerce.
While locally, a number of community agencies have put together funds to help those affected, which is being centralized by Spokane’s Innovia Foundation. CLICK HERE for more information