Search and rescue teams were deployed Sunday over the blackened ruins of southern Oregon cities as wildfires continue to wreak havoc across the U.S. west, with authorities warning of mass casualties.
Wildfires in the states of California, Oregon and Washington have destroyed tens of thousands of homes and half a dozen small towns this summer, burning down a New Jersey-sized landscape and killing at least 26 people since early August.
Tracy Kova, a high school teacher, returned to Oreo Talent with her partner, Dave Tonksley, and her 13-year-old daughter after discovering that her house and neighborhood had been reduced to piles of ashes and debris.
“We know it’s gone,” Kova said in a telephone interview Sunday. “However, you pull up, and every house is destroyed. You think about every family and every situation and every car that burns and there are no words for it.”
Ore., Crews in Jackson County are sending out thick smoke as the Amber burns, hoping to penetrate slightly reduced rural areas with slowing winds of the Almeida Fire. An apocalyptic view of the baked residential subdivisions and trailer parks that stretch for miles along Highway 99, from Medford through neighboring Phoenix and Talent communities.
Community donation centers were around Jackson County over the weekend, one of which was in the parking lot of Home Depot in Phoenix, where farmers brought a pick-up truck bed full of watermelons and people brought water and other supplies.
After four days of brutal hot, windy weather, inland winds and cold, humid conditions from the Pacific Ocean over the weekend helped crew move forward against the blaze that had not been checked in the week before.
However, emergency officials were concerned that the shifting weather may not be adequate to contain the blaze.
See | BC skies overcast with smoke from US wildfires, health hazard:
“We are concerned that the incoming front will not give much rain here in the Medford area and this will bring increased winds,” Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Kyle Sullivan told Reuters in a telephone interview Sunday.
At least 10 people have been killed in Oregon, officials say. Kate Brown says dozens of people are missing in the three counties.
As of Sunday morning, there were 34 active fires in Oregon, according to the state office’s emergency management website.
Brown called the blaze a “once-in-a-generation incident” and Andrew Phelps, director of the Office of Emergency Management, said authorities were responsible for the “mass fatalities”.
Dense smoke and ash from the fires darkened the sky over the Pacific Northwest from Labor Day, creating the worst air-quality levels in the world and driving residents indoors. The Bureau of Land Management said on Twitter on Sunday that satellite images showed smoke bubbling eastward.
Drought conditions, extreme temperatures and high winds in Oregon have created a “perfect storm” to increase fires, Government Brown told CBS. Face the Nation On Sunday.
“It is an awakening call for all of us that we must do everything in our power to tackle climate change,” she said.
Trump will visit California
In California, tens of thousands of firefighters were battling 28 large wildfires as of Saturday afternoon, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said. Improving weather conditions helped them gain control over most fires.
The White House says U.S. President Donald Trump will meet with Republican, federal and California officials Monday. Western governors have blamed some of the severe fire seasons in recent years for poor forest management.
His Democratic opponent in the November election, Joe Biden, linked the clashes with climate change on Saturday, echoing remarks made a day earlier by California Governor Gavin Newsom.
In California alone, 4,000 homes and other structures have been burned in the past three weeks.
Portland, Oreo, where political protests have escalated to more than 100 days in recent weeks. In, Multnoma County Sheriff punished residents for setting up their own checkpoints to stop cars. Or antifa flames. Local officials called those claims baseless.
Facebook said Saturday it was dismissing false claims that some groups had started wildfires in Oregon.
“This is based on confirmation from law enforcement that these rumors are forcing local fire and police agencies to divert resources to fight fires and protect people,” a Facebook spokesman said.