Heavy winds sweeping across the west Fueled fast-growing wildfires Wednesday and forced mass evacuations as firefighters battled gamely to protect lives, homes, and businesses.
Oregon government Kate Brown said that her state is experiencing “Unpredictable fire with significant damage and devastating consequences across the entire state” at a news conference.
“This could be the greatest loss of human lives and property due to wildfire in our state’s history” Kate added.
The governor said that hundreds of hundreds of homes have been lost. State officials are continuing to carry out mass evacuations across the entire state, she said.
At least 7 people were pronounced dead in Wildfires in Washington, Oregon, and California on Wednesday with blazes being driven by high winds and fueled by recent heatwaves.
In Northern California, the fast-moving Bear fire created apocalyptic scenes as smoke-filled air settled over the Bay Area and produced an ominous orange glow. The blaze forced thousands of people to flee their homes.
The wildfires come after a record-shattering heat wave and amid human-caused climate change that is heightening fire risks, along with temperatures, in the west. These blazes are being driven by strong, dry, offshore winds that are causing extreme fire behavior, which can produce everything from mushroom cloud-like plumes of smoke that reach 40,000 feet in height, to vortexes that make it impossible for firefighters to contain an advancing fire.
Residents of San Francisco and the surrounding woke up to darken skies, disorientating some, who taught it was still night time. Local media reported that it still appeared to be dawn at 10:45 (18:45 BST), as the sun’s rays struggled to penetrate the thick smoke.
In Washington State, a one-year-old boy died after his family was overrun by flames while they attempted to flee their property.