Biden declares Spokane wildfires a major disaster, opens federal funding for recovery

President Joe Biden ordered a major disaster declaration for wildfires that ripped through Eastern Washington last summer.

The Biden Administration made the declaration on Feb. 15, which opens federal funding for recovery efforts in Spokane County. Specifically, the declaration encompasses the Gray and Oregon Road fires that broke out on Aug. 18, 2023.

Estimates from the National Weather Service pegged damages from the wildfires at more than $60 million, hundreds of homes were destroyed and at least two people lost their lives. More than 21,000 acres were ravaged by the fire.

Funding includes grants for temporary housing, home repairs, low-cost loans for uninsured property losses, hazard mitigation and money for emergency work made available to local governments and nonprofits.

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U.S. Senator Patty Murray applauded the announcement:

"The Gray and Oregon Road fires were absolutely devastating for families in Northern Spokane Country, hundreds of whom saw their homes and their land destroyed." said Sen. Murray. "I want to thank the Biden Administration for always working closely with us to put the people of Washington state first—now I’ll be focused on making sure this federal assistance gets where it needs to go to really help the people who lost so much in these fires."

"This long-awaited announcement is what we had hoped for to provide needed assistance to the hundreds of families impacted by the Grey and Oregon fires," said Spokane County Commissioner Al French. "Deeply appreciate all of the efforts done by Senator Murray and our federal delegation to make this possible for the Spokane region and those impacted by the fires."