Kamis, 10 September 2020

US's wet Pacific north-west experiences unprecedented severe fires - ABC News

The temperate ecosystems of America's Pacific north-west rarely burns, but another unprecedented fire season along the US's west coast has caused temperate forests from Oregon to Washington state go up in flames.

Because of its cool, wet climate, the Pacific north-west almost never experiences such intense fire activity.

But global warming driven by human-caused greenhouse gases is expected to keep warming the region, with most models predicting drier summers, according to research from the College of the Environment at the University of Washington.

Currently, there are a number fires burning simultaneously in the region, and already several deaths have been reported.

At least three people have died in Oregon while a one-year-old boy died in Washington state.

Big Lake, Oregon, pictured in 2017
The Pacific north-west is known for its dramatic mountainous landscapes.(Flickr: Bonnie Moreland)

Oregon Governor Kate Brown said some communities have been "substantially destroyed" and has warned there could be numerous fatalities.

She said her state could see the greatest loss of life and property from wildfires in its history.

The small towns of Phoenix and Talent in southern Oregon were heavily damaged.

You see a charred sedan sitting on a barren blackened mountaintop with the sky clogged in fire smoke.
The charred remains of a car at a destroyed hilltop property in Washington state.(AP: Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

Another fire levelled most of the small farming town of Malden in eastern Washington — burning down the fire station, post office, City Hall and library.

Elsewhere in the state, a fire burned more than 1,900 square kilometres of forest, brush and shrubland.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee said low humidity, high temperatures and winds combined to likely make the blaze one of "the most catastrophic fires we've had in the history of the state".

California's fires 'bigger and faster' than ever before

Embers light up a hillside as it glows bright orange behind the Bidwell Bar Bridge.
California has had more than 7,600 fire incidents this season according to state authorities.(AP: Noah Berger)

Fires were also causing chaos in California, where thousands of homes were threatened on Thursday after winds whipped a blaze into a monster that incinerated houses in a small mountain community and killed at least three people.

Several other people have been critically burned and hundreds, if not thousands, of homes and other buildings are believed to have been damaged or destroyed by the fire that was north-east of San Francisco, authorities said.

Experts have said California's fires are growing bigger and moving faster than they ever have before.


The fires have even affected the coastal road artery that links all three states, US Highway 101, after fires along an Oregon highway prompted its shutdown.

The extent of damage was unclear because so many of the fire zones were too dangerous to survey, said Oregon Deputy State Fire Marshal Mariana Ruiz-Temple.

With an expected break in the weather on Thursday, Doug Grafe, chief of fire protection at the Oregon Department of Forestry, said firefighters are hoping to turn things around.

Officials said winds have slowed and cooler marine breezes were expected.

'I've been through hell ... but nothing like this'

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.
Oregon is experiencing one of its worst fire seasons in living memory.

Lloyd Dean Holland, a Vietnam veteran, barely escaped his home in Estacada, Oregon on Tuesday night.

Mr Holland said Oregon State Police had warned him to leave earlier in the day, but the fire seemed far away and he decided to stay.

Around 10:00pm, he said, his landlord came pounding on the door screaming at him to go.


He left his rental house as flames exploded in cedar trees around him. He found his dog Gus waiting in his truck.

He said his sole remaining possessions — rifles, dentures and some clothing — were also in the truck.


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2020-09-10 17:38:00Z

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