West Coast Fires


Photo: Washington Department of Natural Resources

Commissioner of Public Land Hilary Franz and Mayor of Malden, Washington Chris Ferrel embrace in front of a destroyed post office. The town of Malden was completely burned to the ground in a few hours following the fires that erupted on Labor Day.

Wildfires setting millions of acres ablaze across the west coast forced UPrep students to stay inside for days on end in late September due to hazardous smoke.
Senior and cross country runner Max Lagunoff had to change his schedule due to the toxic smoke.
“We were not supposed to run outside as the AQI [air quality index] was unhealthy, meaning a lot of the team did not run at all, making a huge impact on the training this fall as people are just getting back into running,” Lagunoff said. “Luckily, I was able to have a treadmill in my basement so I could run.”
Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, led the wildfire resistance effort across Washington.
“In 72 hours, more than 600,000 acres burned throughout Washington State,” Franz said. “That’s five times more acres than what burned in all of 2019.”

While Washington endured significant wildfires, the rest of the West Coast faced even more destructive wildfires.
“Much of this smoke is blown up from California and Oregon,” Franz said, “meaning even if we do all we can to prevent fires in Washington, we need to help our neighboring states.”

“There are no resources to be found, as they are being consumed by Colorado, Oregon, California and other states on fire before us,” Franz said.[/pullquote]es quickly and contain them, but they faced challenges due to the lack of resources.
“There are no resources to be found, as they are being consumed by Colorado, Oregon, California and other states on fire before us,” Franz said.
Currently the Washington State Department of Natural Resources lacks the resources necessary to adequately fight wildfires.
“There is a shortage of staff, meaning instead of having 50 to 75 members [on a team], you have 15 to 17 members,” Franz said. “We are under resourced.”
With the lack of funding for wildfire protection, fires and subsequent evacuations are at an all time high. Franz believes, however, that everyone can play a role in easing these effects in coming years.
“You can do your part… [by] writing your state legislatures and request that funds go to wildfire protection resources,” Franz said.

Editor’s Note: Hilary Franz is Phin Mahlums mother