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Rabu, 09 September 2020

Wildfires turn San Francisco sky orange as 'unprecedented' conditions stoke blazes across the western US - ABC News

Wildfires are raging unchecked across parts of the western US, turning the sky over San Francisco orange and prompting fears of a record death toll in the worst-hit state, Oregon.

In Washington state, more acres burned in a single day than firefighters usually see all year, but forecasters said relief from hot, dry and windy conditions was in sight.

In California, where rescues and evacuations are underway, winds stoked an unprecedented number of fires.

The fires turned San Francisco's sky a hazy shade of orange on Wednesday. Drivers used their headlights during the day to see through the smog created by the fires.

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Oregon was dealing with nearly 100 extreme bushfires stoked by high winds and temperatures. Five small towns were all but destroyed on Wednesday.

In central Oregon, rescuers saved people's lives by pulling them from the Santiam River where they had taken refuge from flames that destroyed scores of riverside homes, officials said.

Towns in the Santiam Valley, and others in southern Oregon, were substantially destroyed, the state's Governor Kate Brown told a news conference.

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High winds are fanning dozens of catastrophic fires across Oregon.

The Governor gave no indication of how many people may have died, but one of Oregon's most deadly blazes was in 1936, when a fire destroyed the city of Brandon and killed 13 people.

'It was like driving through hell'

Flames burn bright orange right behind an emergency vehicle as a man stands by the car door.
Firefighters were forced to retreat in many areas from the oncoming flames.(AP: Noah Berger)

Firefighters in all three states retreated from uncontrolled blazes that forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate their homes and left hundreds of thousands more without power.

"It was like driving through hell," Jody Evans told local television station NewsChannel21 after a midnight evacuation from Detroit, a small, isolated town on Lake Detroit, south-east of Oregon's capital, Portland.

Ms Brown saw no respite in the near term.

"Winds continue to feed these fires and push them into our towns and cities," she said, adding that thousands more Oregonians would need to evacuate.

Under an orange sky, a man crosses Hyde Street with Alcatraz Island and Fisherman's Wharf in the background.
People from San Francisco to Seattle woke to hazy clouds of smoke and eerie orange skies.(AP: Eric Risberg)

Climate scientists have blamed global warming for extreme wet and dry seasons in the US West.

The cycle has caused grasses and scrubs to flourish, then dry out, leaving fuel that supercharges wildfires.

In California, all 18 national forests were closed due to what the US Forest Service called "unprecedented and historic fire conditions".

A car loaded with two dogs and other precious belongings arrives at an evacuation centre carpark.
Tens of thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes, carrying only the essentials.(AP: Andrew Selsky)

One fire tore through the Sierra National Forest, susceptible due to drought and bark beetle damage, destroying over 360 homes and structures.

"This fire is just burning at an explosive rate," said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for California's state fire authority.

Houses on either side of a dirt road lay burned and in ruins.
Many US towns have been left in ruins.(AP: Jesse Tinsley)

Across the United States, wildfires have burned nearly 4.7 million acres so far this year, according to the National Interagency Fire Centre.

ABC/wires

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2020-09-10 01:18:00Z
CBMiZWh0dHBzOi8vd3d3LmFiYy5uZXQuYXUvbmV3cy8yMDIwLTA5LTEwL2V4cGxvc2l2ZS13aWxkZmlyZXMtYWNyb3NzLXRoZS11cy1zdG9rZWQtYnktaG90LXdpbmRzLzEyNjQ4MTA20gEnaHR0cHM6Ly9hbXAuYWJjLm5ldC5hdS9hcnRpY2xlLzEyNjQ4MTA2

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