A thick blanket of smoke continued to cast an orange haze over parts of the usually cool Willamette Valley in Oregon. Nearly 40 fires had burned more than 900,000 acres across the state in the past three days, according to Gov. Kate Brown. At least three people in the state have died and more than 500,000 residents, more than 10 percent of Oregon's population, have been forced to evacuate. “This could be the greatest loss of human life and property due to wildfire in our state’s history,” Brown said on Wednesday.
What about the rest of the region? Hot, dry weather combined with unusually high winds fueled fires in Washington and California, as well. One small town in Washington lost its fire station, post office, city hall, and library. Growing wildfires threatened thousands of homes in California’s northern Sierra Nevada mountains and along its border with Oregon. At least 10 people in California have died as rescuers look for 16 others who are missing.
Editor’s note: WORLD has updated this report since its initial posting.
This story originally appeared in WORLD. © 2020, reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.