The Clark County Council declared an emergency Tuesday due to ongoing wildfires in the area.
The declaration — first signed Friday by Council Chair Eileen Quiring O’Brien — was approved unanimously by the council. It gives county staff permission to make decisions — as outlined in the county’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan — about smoke and fire threats without approval of the council.
Interim County Manager Kathleen Otto said the declaration gives the county the ability to obtain state and federal funding as well as other resources.
Hundreds of horses and other animals have been evacuated from fire-impacted areas to the Clark County Fairgrounds, Clark County Saddle Club and other locations throughout the county.
“We’ve been able to respond fully as requested,” Otto said.
‘Really on the ball’
Quiring O’Brien said that she toured the fairgrounds on Saturday. A ranch owner from Canby, Ore., with 30 horses expressed gratitude for the county’s response, she said.
“I want to thank (Clark County Fair Manager) John Morrison and our county manager for allowing for this to take place and to actually be really on the ball in helping these people out,” Quiring O’Brien said.
Since early last week, horse owners in the county have been evacuating horses and livestock from areas near the fires and coordinating temporary shelter.
“It really was a coming-together, and it was very refreshing to hear about and see,” Councilor Gary Medvigy said. “I think everybody pulled in the right direction in this emergency.”
Councilor Temple Lentz also noted that a temporary homeless shelter at Motel 6 in east Vancouver has opened additional space for those who are unsheltered and suffering from the poor air quality.
“Hopefully we don’t see much more damage,” Lentz said. “But we can say now, that thanks to the efforts of all of these people, lives and homes and cherished animals have been saved.”