As wildfire burns out of control, West Coast faces unimaginable


SAN FRANCISCO – Across a hellish landscape of smoke and ash, officials in Oregon, California and Washington State battled to contain the mega-wildfire Sunday, as shifting winds threatened to intensify the spots that hit the entire West. I have burned the unthinkable water of the land.

The arrival of strong winds on Sunday tested the resolution of firefighters who were already exhausted for weeks of already scorched forests, which were consumed in dense forests on nearly 5 million acres, engulfing many communities And was built at several locations measured as the worst air quality. Planet.

“There’s a lot of fire,” said Ryan Walbrun, a fire meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “And so much smoke.”

The fire that killed at least 24 people in the last week alone has filled the region with anguish and fear, as many people have been forced from their homes and turned into refugee camps. Choking smoke put a dark pallu on the sky and created a scene of climate-change disaster that created the worst situation for the future, a terrible reality for the present.

“I drove 600 miles and didn’t get out of state,” Senator Jeff Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon, said Sunday in the television program “This Week.” “We have thousands of people who have lost their homes. I could never imagine it. “

As the West burns, there is a general consensus among role scientists that climate change is at play in the size and intensity of the fire.

“Fundamentally science is very simple,” said Philip B. Duffy, a climate scientist who heads the Woodwell Climate Research Center.

“Hot and drying conditions make dryers fuel,” said Dr. Duffy, a physicist. “What the fire would have easily extinguished now just rises too quickly and gets out of control.”

Winds are often the deciding factor between fires that can be controlled and that move with such speed and speed that the best officers can do is get people out of the way.

Mr. Walbrune of the National Weather Service said that the winds generated by the slow-moving storm system off the coast of Oregon were expected to run at most times of the week and at speeds of 15 to 30 mph. Winds may have the beneficial effect of cleaning up some of the toxic fumes that have been lingering in the atmosphere from Los Angeles to Seattle. But for firefighters, the change in winds represents a 180-degree change in direction in many areas, with a fire threatening their progress.

The National Weather Service issued a “red flag alert” in southern Oregon and California due to the possibility of wind and dry weather in surrounding counties.

California has experienced horrific fires every year since the wine country north of San Francisco ravaged in 2017, with the fire engulfing several areas of the same area that had already burned, new trauma. The city of paradise, where more than 80 people died in a single 2018, still caught fire and destroyed most structures, one of the largest fires ever in the state.

In Oregon, blazes have been reaching areas untouched by fire for decades.

“We’ve never had anything,” said Margaret Cooper, who lives in Psycho, a farming and logging town south-east of the state capital, Salem, for the past three decades. “This is literally the first time in our backyard.”

In nearby Gates, Ore., The refugees by fire were exhausted after five days of living in dinghy motels or cars, eating pizzas donated to dinner, and all the while knowing that their homes burned down Were or were standing.

Police cruisers blocked traffic along a highway going up the mountains east of Salem, where the Beechie Creek Fire was still burning out of control. Some families were able to survive. Other convoys of pickup trucks made their way to the side roads and skimmed the edges of farm fields in search of alternative routes. Some were seeking essential medicines, others lost pets and signs of a break-in.

“Everything is still on fire,” said 29-year-old Mike Alexander, who has been coming and going since Monday night when a forest fire hit the hill behind his house.

Some evacuation warnings were relaxed Sunday in areas south of Portland. But many towns remained unattainable. Law enforcement officials set up hotlines for people living in the lakes of Detroit and neighboring Idgah on Sunday deputies check at their homes.

For days, a fire brigade in Aomsville, a small town outside Salem, was untouched by the fire, going into the mountains with the help of other firefighters to try to overcome the 188,000-acre Beech Creek fire. Firefighters are running on adrenaline, sleeping in a charity trailer that was dropped in their parking lot, then heading back into the fire.

“People are ready, but not for fires of this magnitude,” said Roy Hari, the fire chief of Aomsville.

Everything that has burned in the west has been in remote forests, but in Oregon, the entire community along the main north-south interstate Highway I-5 along the west coast has been razed.

One concern in California is the number of dead trees in the Sierra Nevada forests, where many of the largest blazes are burning. The United States Forest Service has counted 163 million trees killed, which ended in 2017 as a result of a prolonged drought.

President Trump is scheduled to visit McClellan Park, California on Monday. Mr Trump acknowledged his seriousness on Saturday, after keeping quiet over a week of fire. “I talked to people in Oregon, Washington,” he said. “They had nothing like it.”

At Gates, where dozens of homes were burned, 55-year-old Darren Richardson and his neighbors were burned to ashes by fire. They filled rain barrels, kiddie pools and small tanks at a nearby fire station and patrolled their streets and backyards to sink around property lines and tried to take out the fire in the tree stumps.

“I’m not leaving,” Mr. Richardson said that this weekend, wearing camouflage and holding a gun in his right hand as he stood outside his house. “I saw that the whole city was ablaze.”

Thomas fuller Reported from San Francisco, and Jack healy Gates, Ore. Jack Nikes contributed reporting from Phoenix, Ore.