- Associated Press - Monday, September 29, 2014

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Businesses and residents in several counties in central Washington affected by summer wildfires may be eligible for disaster loans under a new disaster declaration.

Gov. Jay Inslee announced Monday that the Small Business Administration approved the request he made last week.

The declaration clears the way for low-interest loans for qualified businesses and residents of Okanogan, Chelan, Douglas, Ferry, Grant, Lincoln, Skagit and Whatcom counties.

More than 300 homes were destroyed by the wildfires. Last month, the governor said the cost of destroyed properties in Okanogan County alone is estimated at more than $28 million.

Inslee said that he reached out to SBA after the Federal Emergency Management Agency denied for a second time Washington’s request for aid to individuals affected by the fires. FEMA earlier did approve Inslee’s request for public assistance that will help the county and tribal governments pay for repair of infrastructure damaged in the fires.

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