Hashtags help in emergency communications: #Wawildfire and #WAWildfires

President Obama declared a state of emergency for 11 counties and several Indian reservations in Washington. As wildfires continue to rage in central and eastern Washington, residents evacuate and fire fighters and emergency responders arrive from Washington and around the country. Many of us know friends or family who live here or who came to help.

Social media is helping keep people informed about where the wildfires are, the status of evacuations, and requests for volunteers and other help. The hashtag #Wawildfire lets people search for information quickly.

When the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) requested citizen volunteers to help fight the wildfires for the first time ever, a huge number of people showed up, overwhelming the volunteer centers. Thank you for your support! More information about how you can volunteer to fight wildfires is available on DNR’s website.

Information is also available in Spanish:

Our hearts hurt for the residents surrounded by fires and for the three fire fighters who lost their lives. Now that the area is declared a state of emergency, we hope that the wildfires will be contained and put out soon. We’ll continue to follow #Wawildfire and #WAWildfires for more information. Thank you again to the brave professional and volunteer firefighters from WA and around the country. We are proud and grateful.

Today’s Seattle Times article lists ways you can help.