Death toll in West Coast wildfires reaches 35, officials anxious about winds

Elias Hubbard
September 14, 2020

In California, more than 7,700 wildfires have blackened more than 3.1 million acres, killing 20 people, according to the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Twenty-two people have died in California since early August, and one person has been killed in Washington state.

Emergency services in OR confirmed there was still 38 active fires burning as of Sunday morning, with 40,000 people under mandatory evacuation orders.

At least 10 people have been killed in OR, according to the office of emergency management. Officials have said more people are missing, and the number of fatalities is likely to rise, though they have not said how high the toll could go as they search.

Much of the West Coast remained coated in dense smog through Sunday, with Portland the world's most air-polluted city according to IQAir.

In the state of Washington firefighters continue to tackle 15 large wildfires.

A rabbit crosses the road with flames from a brush fire along Japatul Road during the Valley Fire in Jamul, California on 6 September 2020 The Valley Fire in the Japatul Valley burned 4,000 acres overnight with no containment and 10 structures destroyed, Cal Fire San Diego said.

Recording-breaking heat has fuelled the spread of bushfires, last Sunday Woodland Hills in California recorded the highest ever temperature in Los Angeles, reaching 49C (121F).

After four days of brutally hot, windy conditions in OR, the weekend brought calmer winds blowing inland from the Pacific Ocean, and cooler, moister weather that helped crews make headway against blazes that burned unchecked last week.

All told in California, almost 17,000 firefighters were battling 29 major wildfires on Sunday, Cal Fire said.

The heavy smoke that has painted California skies orange has also helped fire crews corral the state's deadliest blaze this year by blocking the sun, reducing temperatures and raising humidity.

Mr Trump largely avoided discussing the fires, all in Democrat-controlled states, for several weeks, with the White House insisting on Friday that a presidential visit to the affected areas "would not be wise" and could direct essential resources away from the blazes, before an about-turn over the weekend.

The Democratic governors say the fires are a effect of climate change, while the Trump administration has blamed poor forest management for the flames that have raced through the region and made the air in places like Portland, Oregon, Seattle and San Francisco some of the worst in the world. "And, of course, we have a landscape that has seen 30 years of drought", she told CBS on Sunday. "But they don't want to listen".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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