Spokane Co. Sheriff’s Office: Be cautious of random people offering to help during wildfires

Spokane Co. Sheriff’s Office: Be cautious of random people offering to help during wildfires
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The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement on Wednesday, urging residents to be cautious of random people offering help during wildfires and other natural disasters.

They urged people to have an emergency plan in place, and to always be prepared – which includes having an emergency kit, destination and a place to meet in case of separation.

In a press release, they issued the following statement:

The Sheriff’s Office would also like to remind you there are always people who try to take advantage of others during these intense, dangerous and rapidly evolving incidents. Neighbors helping one another is something our community has shown, time and time again, as a strength but remember there are people, unfortunately, who may look at emergencies as an opportunity to race in with an offer to assist with less than honorable and sometimes criminal intentions.

The Sheriff’s Office noted that anyone not affiliated with the Sheriff’s Office, Department of Emergency Management, SCOPE or the local fire departments will not be allowed into the emergency areas without proper approval. In short, this means anyone who is not a first responder or accompanied by a first responder.

In an emergency situation, ask for official identification, check with first responders at the incident or call 911 immediately. The Sheriff’s Office warned to be wary of people offering to move pets, animals or livestock unannounced during natural disasters.

For those who want to help during major emergencies, the Sheriff’s Office suggests contacting the Greater Spokane Department of Emergency Management before an incident takes place. This will allow people to get proper training and allow first responders to provide a unified effort during emergencies.

The Sheriff’s Office warned that if you are caught in an evacuated or closed area during an emergency, and you do not live there or have not been approved to be there, you will likely be detained and potentially arrested.

More information can be found at the Greater Spokane Department of Emergency Management’s website.