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CenturyLink 911 services impacted near wildfires

CenturyLink 911 services impacted near wildfires

As wildfires continue to burn across the state, 911 services in Omak, Okanogan, Oroville and Mallot are being stressed to the point that some callers are receiving busy signals when they call.

CenturyLink is asking customers to be patient and limit their calls to true emergency situations. Calls are going through, but it may take several attempts – and the few people calling, the greater the chance.

Meanwhile, CenturyLink says all 911 services along with local and long distance phone lines and internet services remain down in Mazama, Pateros, Twisp and Winthrop due to extensive fire damage in the area.

With destroyed fiber cables and equipment CenturyLink says they are unable to provide an estimated time for restoration and say customers should expect them to remain down for an extended period of time.

FEMA funds authorized for Carlton Complex fire

FEMA funds authorized for Carlton Complex fire

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has authorized the use of federal funds to help with firefighting costs for the Carlton Complex Fire, burning in Okanogan County, Washington.

FEMA Region X Regional Administrator, Kenneth D. Murphy determined that the Carlton Complex Fire threatened enough destruction to constitute a major disaster. Murphy approved the state's request for federal Fire Management Assistance Grant on Thursday.

When the request was submitted on Wednesday, no homes had burned. Today, dozens of homes and businesses have burned to ash as the fire moved through the small town of Pateros. Nearby Brewster is also under a level three evacuation order, meaning residents must leave the area immediately.

A Red Cross shelter has been set up in the town of Chelan for anyone who needs assistance, including cots, meals and water.

TRAFFIC ALERT: Vantage Bridge on I-90 closed

TRAFFIC ALERT: Vantage Bridge on I-90 closed

A multi-vehicle accident involving an estimated 15 semitrucks and 6 cars has prompted Washington State Department of Transportation to close part of Interstate 90 in central Washington.

I-90 westbound is closed at milepost 136 near the Vantage Bridge over the Columbia river, and eastbound at milepost 115 near Kittitas.

Drivers are being detoured onto local roads. There is no estimate for a reopening time. 

The collision occured just after 11 am eastbound near milepost 127.

Washington unemployment drops to lowest in six years

Washington unemployment drops to lowest in six years

Thanks to a boost in June, Washington's unemployment numbers have dropped to their lowest levels in six years to 5.8 percent – that's according to the state's Employment Security Department.

Industry sectors saw the largest growth with 2,600 jobs. Retail grew by 2,200, leisure and hospitality by 1,900 and wholesale trade by 1,400. Professional and business services, information, manufacturing, financial services and mining also saw growth in the hundreds.

“After a hiring lull in May, Washington employers really picked up the pace in June,” said Paul Turek, an economist with the department. “The state's economy is picking up momentum and the near term job outlook is good.”

During the one-year period ending in June, Employment Security estimates that employers created 84,700 jobs.

State of emergency declared for 20 counties

State of emergency declared for 20 counties

A state of emergency has been declared in 20 eastern Washington counties due to multiple wildfires threatening homes, businesses and public infrastructure. The National Weather Service has also posted red flag warnings and fire weather watches for hazardous conditions (high temperatures, low humidity, high winds) for much of eastern Washington through Friday.

Impacted counties include:

Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. to begin test flights in Moses Lake

Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. to begin test flights in Moses Lake

Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation has announced they are expanding their test flight facilities to include the Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake.

Mitsubishi says they chose Moses Lake because of the large aerospace industry cluster located in Washington, and because the airport meets all the requirements for flight testing like a long runway, flexibility for take-offs/landings with no regular transport services and a greater chance of fair weather.

Mitsubishi signed a contract with AeroTEC, based in both Seattle and Moses Lake, in 2011 to provide flight test planning support, consultation and advice.

Flight testing for the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) is set to begin in 2015.

Whooping cough among farmworkers in Grant County

The Grant County Health District is responding to a local outbreak of whooping cough among migrant workers in Mattawa and Quincy.

Three cases have been confirmed and 210 people were given antibiotics from Friday through Monday.

The health district says workers also are being offered the vaccine known as the Tdap shot for pertussis. The shot is especially important to prevent spreading the disease to infants.

The health district says the farm where the workers are housed has been responsive and cooperative.