Death toll increases in California, Oregon and Washington

Ashley, 3, and Ethan, 2, see a burning bicycle as it was destroyed on September 10, 2020 in Bear Creek, Phoenix, Oregon, US, after a wildfire.

Carlos Baria | Reuters

Dozens of large wooded forests are burning through the US West Coast, destroying hundreds of homes and wiping out entire neighborhoods in two cities in Oregon.

More than 3 million acres have been burned in California, a record in the state’s history. The August complex, which began with a series of lightning strikes last month, has become the largest wildfire in California history.

The Ashland Police Department in Oregon has opened an arson investigation for the Alameda Fire, which killed two people and destroyed two cities. The death toll from the Alameda Fire is expected to increase as search teams see through the destruction.

Four people died in a fire in Oregon and a 1-year-old boy died of scorching in Washington state. The Battee County Sheriff’s Office reported Thursday evening that at least 10 people died in a fire in California. Authorities are still searching for the missing people. The fire has so far claimed at least 20 deaths and the death toll is expected to increase.

In this aerial view from the drone, the fire destroyed homes on September 10, 2020 in Phoenix, Oregon. Hundreds of houses in the town have been destroyed due to the uproar.

David Rider | Getty Images

About 500,000 people are under evacuation orders in Oregon, about an eighth of the state’s total population, as the state fights about three dozen fires.

The Blaze has also destroyed entire communities in Oregon, including Detroit; Blue River and Vida; And Phoenix and talent. In Washington state, a fire destroyed most of the homes in the city of Malden.

Portland General Electric has received unconfirmed reports that some fires in Oregon may have been triggered by strong winds and debris-hit electrical equipment. Shares of the company fell after CNBC showed the news on Thursday.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said her state has burned more than 900,000 acres, an average of more than 500,000 acres annually in the state.

“We have never seen this amount without fire across the state,” Brown said at a press conference on Thursday. “We are feeling the acute effects of climate change.”

A Coulson 737 fire tanker jet slows down a fire retardant to slow the Bobcat Fire above a major run up in the National Forest on September 10, 2020, north of Monrovia, California.

David McKen | Getty Images

In California, approximately 64,000 people are under evacuation orders while firefighters battled 29 major fires. Six of the top 20 largest wildfires in the state’s history have occurred this year, according to the state’s fire agency Cal Fire.

The Bear Fire, which filled the skies in Northern California with smoke and turned them into a deep yellow-orange color, evacuated thousands and damaged or destroyed nearly 2,000 structures. It became the 10th largest fire in California history.

Extreme heat and dry conditions, triggered by climate change, have sparked major fires in the West, fueled by high winds.

Firefighters have traveled from Texas, Colorado and Utah to help fight the blazes, but many have slim emergency responses. The Washington State Government stated, “Every fire unit in Washington State wants to have more resources right now.”

State and local officials are concerned that some people were unable to evacuate their homes that were destroyed by the blasts, and that the death toll was expected to increase as search efforts continued.

The city of Oregon evacuates north near Oregon City on September 9, 2020, with Oregon City 213.

Nathan Howard | Getty Images


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