The death toll from wildfires that have ravaged the United States’ West Coast has risen to 33 as the National Weather Service has issued a “red flag warning” amid high winds and dry conditions in Oregon and some California counties.
Authorities said the conditions are expected to “contribute to a significant spread of new and existing fires”, amid days of blazes across the states of California, Oregon and Washington that have destroyed neighbourhoods and forest land, leaving barren and grey landscapes the size of New Jersey.
At least 10 people have been killed in the past week throughout Oregon. Officials have said more people are missing from other blazes, and the number of fatalities is likely to rise. Twenty-two people have died in California since early August, and one person has been killed in Washington state.
|‘Unprecedented’ wildfires rage across western US|
On Sunday, search and rescue teams, with dogs in tow, were deployed across the blackened ruins of southern Oregon towns.
At least 35 active fires were burning in 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.
Crews in Jackson County, Oregon were hoping to venture into rural areas where the Alameda Fire has abated slightly with slowing winds, sending up thick plumes of smoke as the embers burned. From Medford through the neighbouring communities of Phoenix and Talent, an apocalyptic scene of charred residential subdivisions and trailer parks stretched for miles along Highway 99.
After four days of brutally hot, windy weather, the weekend brought calmer winds blowing inland from the Pacific Ocean, and cooler, moister conditions that helped crews make headway against blazes that had burned unchecked earlier in the week.
Still, emergency officials worried that the shifting weather might not be enough to quell the fires.
“We’re concerned that the incoming front is not going to provide a lot of rain here in the Medford region and it’s going to bring increased winds,” Bureau of Land Management spokesman Kyle Sullivan told Reuters news agency.
SOURCE : https://www.aljazeera.com/