Resources stretched thin amid Washington wildfires

OKANOGAN COUNTY, Wash. -- President Obama on Friday declared an emergency in parts of Washington state inundated by wildfires. That will make them eligible to apply for federal aid.

At least 13 wildfires continued to rampage out of control across Washington as firefighters worked -- sometimes in vain -- to save houses and other structures.

Thousands of firefighters struggle against wildfires

Outside of Omak Friday morning, Brad Armstrong's employees were bulldozing brush to protect his home from the threatening flames. He said firefighters were needed elsewhere.

"They're all out where there is a little more dense population right now," Armstrong said.

Resources are stretched so thin, government officials are now asking civilians for help. Omak retiree Butch Pierce signed up.

"I'm ready to go," Pierce told CBS News. "I'll run a shovel, Cat, water truck, low boys, anything they got. I'm 69 years old and I've seen a lot of stuff in my life time, and I'm telling you guys right now, you have never seen anything like this. When the fire is coming towards you, it's like Armageddon."

A solemn procession Thursday night was a reminder of how deadly these fires have become. Three firefighters were killed Wednesday when their vehicle was overrun with flames in the town of Twisp, Washington.

The weather is only making things worse. In Okanagon County, high winds doubled the size of one fire overnight. Elaine Feddersen and her husband had to pack up their trailer and flee.

"It's devastating and it's hard because you got so few firefighters, we need a lot more firefighters. This is a vast area," Feddersen said.

On Sunday, 200 Army soldiers will join fire crews. The need is so great, more than 70 firefighters from New Zealand and Australia will arrive this weekend.