On the West Coast, leaders are pleading for “all the help we can get.”
Forest fires raging on the West Coast turned into an almost inevitable crisis around the country on Tuesday, killing at least 27 people in three states, fires and evacuations began in Idaho, milky smoke clouded the skies over Michigan and fog reached as far as New York. You are.
In the states where the fires are burning the hardest – with more than 5 million acres charred so far in Oregon, California and Washington – authorities have been trying to adapt to a disaster without a clear end, amid profound climate change.
California Gov. Gavin Newsum met with President Trump on Monday in McClellan Park, near Sacramento, thanking him for federal aid and agreeing that forest management could be better – while noting that only 3% of California land is under state control, up from 57 percent under federal control. The governors of the three countries stressed that climate change has made fires more dangerous, drying forests with increasing heat and preparing them for burning, a science the president denied on Monday.
“The rules for fighting forest fires are changing because our climate is changing,” Governor Jay Insley of Washington wrote in an open letter Monday. “There is no fire-fighting plan on this planet that would benefit anyone if they do not even recognize the role of climate change.”
Addressing Mr Trump directly, he wrote: “I hope you have had an educational trip to the West Coast where your refusal to tackle climate change – and your active steps to allow even more carbon pollution. – will accelerate the devastating forest fires you see today. “
Firefighters continued to try to contain dozens of fires Tuesday morning. In California, the August fire, which burned more than 750,000 acres northwest of Sacramento, was controlled by about 30 percent, and the Creek Creek fire northeast of Fresno, which burned more than 200,000 acres, was about 16 percent.
In Oregon, tens of thousands of people were still on evacuation orders, and a fire on Beachie Creek, east of Salem, escalated to burn nearly 200,000 acres.
With dozens of fires burning over millions of acres in Oregon and California, meteorologists are watching how winds and humidity can affect efforts to combat them. Although strong gusts of wind are still possible, forecasters said regions with some of the most devastating fires would benefit from softer winds on Tuesday.
Nearly three dozen fires have burned more than 950,000 acres in Oregon. In California, the Northern Complex fire of more than 264,000 acres was contained by 39 percent, while the August complex fire raged on 755,000 acres, containing only 30 percent.
Winds are expected to calm down on Tuesday, but smoke and fog will continue to cover the skies over Northern California, the National Weather Service said. Temperatures will fluctuate between the low 70s and mid-80s in the valley and the area of fire in the Northern complex.
“There won’t be much wind over this fire zone today,” said Jim Matthews, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “I don’t think there will be unfavorable conditions.”
The humidity will be in the teenage years until the low 20s, he said.
“We need to see an improvement,” Mr Matthews added. “More sun will filter through the smoke and this is due to the southwest flow, which is starting to stir the atmosphere. But air quality is still expected to be unhealthy. “
In Oregon, a “red flag” warning of dangerous fire conditions remains in effect east of the Cascades and there is little moisture in the air. But most of the major fires in the state are burning west of the mountains, and firefighters fighting them are expected to be spared from stronger winds.
“The strongest winds I have west of the cascades are usually gusts of about 15 miles per hour today,” said Charles Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oregon.
But east of the cascades, there will be stronger winds and lower humidity, making conditions “more dangerous than usual,” Mr Smith said. “If there are new fires, they will have a problem with their initial attack,” he added, citing firefighting.
Idaho is battling several fires, with one engulfing about 70,000 acres.
In Idaho, hundreds of firefighters continue to fight more than a dozen fires burning in steep, dry forests and bushes.
The biggest fire, Woodhead Fire, rose to nearly 70,000 acres on Monday, forcing evacuations of campers and residents into the sparsely populated pasture spider and the National Forest near the Oregon border.
None of the fires in the state are comparable in size to the mega-fires ravaging the West Coast, but with stretched resources and forecasts requiring continued dry weather, local fire crews have been closely monitoring the fires.
Several counties in the state are covered in smoke from coastal fires, prompting the Idaho Department of the Environment to warn of unhealthy air for much of the state.
While Trump again rejects science, Biden calls him a “climate arsonist.”
With wildfires raging in the West, climate change took center stage in Monday’s race for the White House, when former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. called President Trump a “climate arsonist” while the president said “I don’t think science knows.” what is actually happening.
A day of dueling outlined the differences between the two candidates, an incumbent president who has long despised climate change as a scam and repealed environmental regulations, and a contender who called for an aggressive campaign to curb the greenhouse gases increasingly blamed for extreme weather.
Mr Trump flew to California after weeks of public silence over the flames that forced hundreds of thousands of people out of their homes, destroyed communities and forests, burned millions of acres, engulfed the area with smoke and left at least 27 people dead. . But even when confronted with the governor of California and other government officials, the president insists he attributes the crisis solely to poor forest management, not climate change.
Mr Biden, for his part, attacked Mr Trump’s climate record, arguing that the president’s inaction and denial had led to devastation, citing not only the current West Coast emergency but also the floods in the Midwest. and hurricanes along the Persian Gulf coast. In an open-air speech at a museum in Wilmington, Del., The Democratic presidential candidate tried to portray Trump’s second term as a threat to the country’s suburbs by launching an attack on him by the president.
“If we have another four years of abandoning Trump’s climate, how many suburbs will be burned in forest fires?” Mr. Biden asked. “How many suburbs will be flooded? How many suburbs will be blown away in superstorms? If you give a climate arsonist another four years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if we have more than a burning America? “
Last week, the Northern Complex Fire tore California’s small mountain community on Lake Madrone, shrinking the shoreline and frequented by bears and otters along pine-covered shores, to bare ebony trees and ashes.
The community had spent years clearing fires and removing debris to protect it from fires. But roaring winds, high temperatures and a firestorm that ranged nearly 20 miles in a matter of days shattered its defenses late last week and destroyed about half of the 130 houses.
“We hoped we had done enough,” said Scott Owen, a resident of the lake. “After watching this fire, I don’t think you can do enough. This fire was moving like no one had ever seen before. ”
On Monday night, Butte County Sheriff Corey Honea announced another victim of the fire, which killed at least 15 people. He said family members of some of the dead had told lawmakers that people had packed their bags and planned to evacuate, but had changed their minds based on false information that the fire was 50 percent.
Mr. Owen’s entire neighborhood burned to the ground in flames. One neighbor barely escaped, he said, and hid from the flames in a creek. On Monday, neighbors were still trying to count them all, hoping authorities would not have to search for debris with dog carcasses.
Although the flames have moved north, residents of Lake Madrone have not yet been able to return. Mr Owen, who has owned a house on the lake for decades, said he was not sure he would restore it.
“I just think things have changed and we will have more fires,” he said. “It’s a record year – who knows where he’s going from here.”
The reporting was contributed by Peter Baker,, Lisa Friedman,, Christine Hauser,, Thomas Kaplan,, Dave Phillips and Alan Juhas.