The authorities fear bad things: Rapidly spreading wildfires have devastated large areas on the west coast of the US. Dozens of people are missing.
Photo series with 11 photos
Devastating wildfires on the west coast of the US have displaced tens of thousands of people. In Oregon alone, 40,000 residents would have had to leave their homes, Governor Kate Brown said Friday. 500,000 people have been ordered to prepare for possible evacuations. According to Brown, more than 4,000 square kilometers of land is on fire. Dozens of people were missing in the fires.
Many fatalities are feared, said Andrew Phelps of the civil defense service. The full extent of the destruction is not yet known. In recent days, authorities have attributed just four deaths to the wildfires, the portal Oregonlive.com reported.
Emergency teams are currently fighting 16 major fires, according to fire chief Doug Grafe. After a heat wave with strong winds, it is now cooler with decreasing wind. That would help with the extinguishing work, Grafe said.
“We are in a climate crisis”
In the state of California, which borders Oregon to the south, more than 14,800 firefighters were employed on 28 larger fires on Friday. According to the Cal Fire authority on Friday, the fires claimed at least 19 lives and destroyed more than 3,900 buildings.
In a fire zone in Butte County, just under 300 miles north of San Francisco, 19 people were reported missing on Friday night. Authorities had previously assumed that 10 people had died after bodies were found. Sheriff Kory Honea corrected this number to nine. But the number of deaths could increase. The smoldering remains are still too hot in many places to thoroughly search the areas, Honea said.
“We are in a climate crisis,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said Friday during a visit to the burnt-out forests near the village of Oroville. Many scientists would have predicted this development years ago. The Democrat called for a stronger fight against climate change.
Experts say climate change is exacerbating drought, heat and extreme weather events, which contribute to more violent forest fires. This year, California burned a record 12,500 square miles of land. Six of the current fires are among the 20 largest in California history since registration in 1930.