Methow Valley hoping weather helps crews fighting fires — Twisp Mayor Soo Ing-Moody guides effort in town

By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly

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Fire retardant being dropped near the town of Twisp (Photo by Sue Misao)

Authorities in Carlton complex, located in the north-central part of Washington in Okanogan County, are hoping that cooler weather assists their efforts in controlling fires that have burned about 400 square miles. The wild fires, the biggest in the state’s history, have been ongoing for the past two weeks and have destroyed about 300 homes.

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Twisp Mayor Soo Ing-Moody

Of the areas that are affected by the fires is the town of Twisp, which is near Winthrop.  The town’s mayor, Soo Ing-Moody, is guiding the efforts to ensure that the nearly 1,000 residents of her town are safe.

Ing-Moody, 43, has been the mayor for over 3 years.  She was originally a member of the town council and was appointed mayor shortly into her term when the former mayor stepped down.

Ing-Moody and her husband settled in the town 14 years ago and operate a Bed and Breakfast in the town.  She was originally born in Canada and educated in Germany.  She holds two masters’ degrees from a German university, as well as further education from the University of Toronto.

In addition, Methow Valley District Ranger Mike Liu is one of the many fighting the fires.  Liu, who is Asian American, oversees the district which encompasses approximately 1,326,000 acres and extends from near the town of Twisp to the crest of the Cascades in the Pasayten Wilderness and North Cascades National Park.

The fire, started by lightning on July 14th, has been ongoing. Hot weather and windy conditions allowed the fire to travel over ridge tops and down valleys over a significant distance resulting in a large number of evacuations.  About 2,500 people are fighting the fires. The Washington National Guard has assisted the cause with four Blackhawk helicopters dropping water on the Carlton complex. Cooler temperatures have granted firefighters the opportunity to attack the wildfire, although a spokesperson indicated that it was 60 percent contained.

Utility crews are working to restore power to many residents as the fire burned utility lines.

President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in Washington because of the fires.  The declaration allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to coordinate disaster relief and help state and local agencies with equipment and resources. President Obama, who was in Seattle for a fundraiser on July 22nd, attributed a portion of the wildfire to a change in climate.

At least one death has been attributed to the wildfires.  A man suffered a heart attack as he was attempting to haul water and dig a fire line to protect his home.

Carlton complex is not the only area in north-central Washington needing to fend off wild fires.  The Chiwaukum Complex near Leavenworth and Mills Canyon are also dealing with fires. (end)

Jason Cruz can be reached at info@nwasianweekly.com.

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