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Spokane legislators propose relief for wildfire victims looking to rebuild homes

A firefighter does mop up work at the Oregon Road fire in north Spokane County.
Courtesy of Inciweb
Firefighters mop up the Oregon Road fire in north Spokane County.

Two Spokane state representatives propose giving a break to Spokane County residents who are rebuilding after the two major August wildfires.

New changes to the state’s building codes took effect this summer. Republican Representative Mike Volz says the revisions make rebuilding more burdensome for fire victims.

"What I’m hearing is that it slows down the process and adds costs to being able to rebuild and then there’s some questions on whether or not insurance will actually even cover the new changes," he said.

While the fires were still active, Spokane County Commissioner Al French made the same proposal, but Volz says this is something the legislature must address.

“I think the county and the local government have been doing everything they can to move things along. This is just new, new regulations from the state that the Building Code Council put into effect that is going to have a severe, significant impact on people’s ability to rebuild quickly," he said.

Volz and his Republican colleague, Suzanne Schmidt, plan to introduce a bill that would allow homeowners to rebuild under the rules that were on the books before the regulations changed. Volz says it would apply not only to victims of the Gray and Oregon Road fires, but to any homeowner in the state whose property burned last summer.

Volz says he and Schmidt plan to file their bill in December, in hopes that it will be considered early in the 2024 session, which is scheduled to last only 60 days.

Doug Nadvornick has spent most of his 30+-year radio career at Spokane Public Radio and filled a variety of positions. He is currently the program director and news director. Through the years, he has also been the local Morning Edition and All Things Considered host (not at the same time). He served as the Inland Northwest correspondent for the Northwest News Network, based in Coeur d’Alene. He created the original program grid for KSFC. He has also served for several years as a board member for Public Media Journalists Association. During his years away from SPR, he worked at The Pacific Northwest Inlander, Washington State University in Spokane and KXLY Radio.