The death toll from wildfires ravaging the West Coast has risen to 33, issuing a “red flag warning” in affected areas.
Authorities said that the conditions are expected to “contribute to a big spread of latest and existing fires,” amid days of blazes across California, Oregon, and Washington that have destroyed neighborhoods and forest land, leaving barren and gray landscapes in Jersey.
For this reason, at least ten people are killed within the past week throughout Oregon. Meanwhile, officials have said more people are missing from other blazes, and therefore the number of fatalities is probably going to rise. Twenty-two people have died in California since August, and one person has been killed in Washington state.
Rescue operations in the West Coast
Search and rescue teams were deployed on Sunday across southern Oregon towns’ blackened ruins—hoping to save more and prevent more damage in the affected areas.
At least 35 active fires were burning within 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.
“No. That’ll be investigated over the days and weeks ahead [on how the fire started], but I have to tell you, we saw the perfect firestorm. We saw incredible winds. We saw very cold, hot temperatures,” Gov. Brown said.
Meanwhile, in Jackson County, Oregon, crews were hoping to venture into rural areas where the Alameda Fire has abated slightly with slowing winds, sending up thick plumes of smoke because the embers are burning.
From Medford through Phoenix and Talent’s neighboring communities, an apocalyptic scene of charred residential subdivisions and trailer parks stretched for miles along Highway 99.
A battle of hot and cold weather
After four days of brutally hot, windy weather, the weekend brought calmer winds blowing inland from the Pacific, and colder, moister conditions that helped crews gain against blazes that had burned unchecked earlier this week.
Emergency officials worried that the shifting weather wouldn’t be enough to stop the fire.
“We’re concerned that the incoming front isn’t getting to provide tons of rain here within the Medford region and it’s getting to bring increased winds,” Bureau of Land Management spokesman Kyle Sullivan told Reuters press agency.
In California, nearly 17,000 firefighters were fighting 29 major wildfires, consistent with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire). Improving weather had helped them gain a measure of containment over most of the blazes.
Correspondingly, more than 4,000 homes and other structures are incinerated within the state alone over the past three weeks. Simultaneously, three million acres of land are burned within the state, consistent with Cal Fire.
Image courtesy of Christian Roberts-Olsen/Shutterstock