U.S. Wildfires: Red flag warning as death toll rises
The death toll from wildfires that have ravaged the United States’ West Coast has risen to 33 as the National Weather Service has issued a “red flag warning” amid high winds and dry conditions in Oregon and some California counties.
At least 10 people have been killed in the past week throughout Oregon, while dozens of people are missing, with one emergency official saying the state should be preparing for a “mass fatality incident”.
On Sunday, search and rescue teams, with dogs in tow, were deployed across the blackened ruins of southern Oregon towns.
At least 35 active fires were burning in the state, as drought conditions, extreme temperatures, and high winds created the “perfect firestorm” for the blazes to grow, Governor Kate Brown told CBS news on Sunday.
Authorities said the conditions are expected to “contribute to a significant spread of new and existing fires”, amid days of blazes across the states of California, Oregon and Washington that have destroyed neighbourhoods and forest land, leaving barren and grey landscapes the size of New Jersey.
Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden warned on Saturday that “climate change poses an imminent, existential threat to our way of life” and accused President Donald Trump, a climate sceptic, of denying “that reality”.
While, Mr Trump, who is due to visit California on Monday to be briefed on the latest situation, blames the wildfires on poor forest management.
What about California?
Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, on Friday inspected damage from the North Complex Fire, near Oroville in Northern California.
“The debate is over, around climate change,” Mr Newsom told reporters. “This is a climate damn emergency. This is real and it’s happening.”
After four days of brutally hot, windy weather, the weekend brought calmer winds blowing inland from the Pacific Ocean, and cooler, moister conditions that helped crews make headway against blazes that had burned unchecked earlier in the week.
In California, nearly 17,000 firefighters were battling 29 major wildfires, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire). Improving weather conditions had helped them gain a measure of containment over most of the blazes.
More than 4,000 homes and other structures have been incinerated in the state alone over the past three weeks. Three million acres of land have been burned in the state, according to Cal Fire.
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