From the Mexican to the Canadian border: the forest fires are spreading in the US west coast states. Orange-red fog sweeps over San Francisco. The authorities are extremely concerned and are reporting more deaths.
The massive forest and bush fires on the west coast of the USA have spread again. According to the authorities, at least six other people were killed in the fires that are raging not only in California, but now also in Oregon and Washington. The affected areas range from areas on the border with Canada to the extreme south of California on the border with Mexico.
Among the fatalities was a one-year-old baby who died in Okanogan County, Washington when the parents escaped the flames with the child. Police found the bodies of a twelve-year-old boy and his grandmother in the Marion district of Oregon, according to police. According to the authorities, three dead were also discovered in the northern California district of Butte. At least eight people had previously died in California.
Wind gusts of up to 120 kilometers per hour
Oregon Governor Kate Brown said at least five cities and hundreds of homes were severely destroyed there alone. She warned that the current fires could claim more lives than any other fire in Oregon history.
The Pacific Northwest of the USA rarely experiences such extreme fires as it does now because of the cooler and wetter climate – and if so, then more in the south or east. This time, however, the area around the metropolis of Portland is also affected. Brown spoke of an unprecedented situation.
The fires were fanned by gusts of wind at speeds of 80 and sometimes even 120 kilometers per hour. 16,000 people have been told to leave their homes since Tuesday. Three prisons were also evacuated.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee also described the extent of the fires as “unprecedented and heartbreaking”.
8,000 square kilometers destroyed in California
At least eight deaths from the fires that had raged for weeks had been recorded in California as of Wednesday. The flames already destroyed a record area of more than 8,000 square kilometers. The so-called Bear Fire recently spread at breakneck speed around 240 kilometers north of San Francisco. It combined with older fires and threatened the city of Oroville.
San Francisco and other California regions awoke to an orange glow on Wednesday. It was created by the smoke from the fires, which mixed with fog and blocked the sunlight – this created a surreal-looking scene. It stayed dark all day, the sun unable to break through the layers of fog and smoke. Local residents described the phenomenon as “apocalyptic” and as “Marshimmel” on social media.
14,000 firefighters in action
More than 170,000 households in California were without electricity because the utility company PG&E shut down the power grid in large parts of the state because of the extreme risk of forest fires. According to the fire department, more than 3,000 buildings in California have already been destroyed by the fires, which are fighting 14,000 firefighters.
Bush and forest fires have risen sharply in California in recent years, for which experts believe global warming is partly responsible. In November 2018, 86 people died in the north of the state in the most momentous forest fire in California’s history.