The governors of California and Oregon on Friday gave details about the disastrous wildfires. That has consumed millions of acres across their two states and Washington. However, it has killed at least 17 people. But state leaders are expecting that the death toll might increase. An Oregon official said that the state was preparing for a “mass fatality incident.”
Doug Grafe, chief of Fire Protection for the Oregon Department of Forestry, said that the strong winds that had spread the fires had dissipated. And that cooler temperatures and higher humidity would help fire crews move “from just life safety to the offense” in fighting the blazes.
However, governor Gavin Newsom of California says that the dying winds that are a “modest amount” of precipitation could be on the way in his state.
Governor Kate Brown of Oregon in her news conference said that well over 1 million acres of land, over 1,500 square miles are burning in the state and that the state’s air quality ranks the worst in the world. “Almost anywhere in the state you can feel this right now,” she said.
Evacuating the People
However, until now they were able to evacuate 40,000 Oregonians and about 500,000 are in areas where they may be evacuated as the fire grows. However, Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland declared a state of emergency on Thursday night. And residents of Molalla about 30 miles to the south, packed highways as they fled from the approaching fires.
But tragedy has already befallen some, with towns like Talent and Phoenix all but obliterated. Andrew Phelps, director of the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, said mass casualties were a possibility “based on what we know and the numbers of structures that have been lost.”
In California, where more than three million acres have burned, Mr. Newsom held a surreal live-streamed news conference. He was speaking among charred trees in the midst of a yellowish, smoky haze left by the raging North Complex Fires.
Mr. Newsom, who said he feared that more bodies would be found. Emphasized the unprecedented scale of the challenges facing firefighters.
“It’s just something we’ve never seen in our lifetime,” Mr. Newsom said.
The coronavirus pandemic was not over yet and now the wildlife will surely be more devastating for the travel industry. This will also mean that the wildfire will cause many flights to be abandoned. Travel will take another hit in 2020 and this one will be due to the rogue fire.