Forest fires, fueled by extreme heat and strong winds, spread further to California, Oregon and Washington on Thursday, destroying hundreds of homes and killing at least seven people.
The fires burned a record 2.5 million acres in California, causing significantly worse damage than last year’s devastating season.
The fires also destroyed entire communities in Oregon, including Detroit in Marion County; Blue River and Vida in Lane County; and Phoenix and Talent in Jackson County. The fires devastated the town of Maldon in eastern Washington over the weekend.
“This could be the biggest loss of life and property due to fires in the history of our country,” said Oregon Gov. Kate Brown. “We are not getting any relief from the weather. The winds continue to feed these fires and push them into our cities.”
In Northern California, the Great Bear Fire filled the sky with smoke and turned them into an ominous dark yellow-orange as Creek’s fire worsened in the Sierra National Forest. Three people were killed in a growing fire in the Northern Complex in Northern California.
A one-year-old boy was killed in a fire in Stud Springs, Okanogan County, Washington, after a child and his parents tried to run away from home, the sheriff’s office said.
Satellite image of NASA MODIS shows forest fires in Oregon, USA, September 8, 2020. Taken on September 8, 2020.
Maxar Technologies | through Reuters
In Oregon, one person was killed near Ashland and two people were killed in fires in Marion County.
The fires are deepening with strong winds and heat. Climate change has caused higher temperatures and drier conditions, which have caused huge fires in the fire-prone western states.
State and local officials are concerned that some people have failed to leave their burned-out homes.
“We are also afraid that these will not be the only people we find dead there,” said Marion County Sheriff Joe Cast.
Thousands of people in the western states have had to evacuate their homes and do not know when they will be able to return. As rescue efforts continue, the death toll from the fires is expected to rise over the next few days.
Intercity 5 is seen in the background as the Bear Lakes Estates neighborhood is devastated after the Almeda fire in Phoenix, Oregon, USA, on September 9, 2020.
Addresses Latif Reuters