In Oregon, Governor Kate Brown called the perilous fires “a once-in-a-generation event,” and Oregon Emergency Management Office director Andrew Phelps said authorities were preparing for the outbreak. possibility of “mass mortality” incidents.
“There are going to be a number of deaths, people who just couldn’t be notified in time and who couldn’t evacuate their homes and get to safety,” Phelps told MSNBC on Friday.
WATCH | The scale of forest fires is linked to climate change, says one scientist:
At least six people have been killed this week in Oregon, state officials say. Brown said dozens of people were still missing in three counties.
Twenty-seven fires still raged across 1.47 million acres (594,000 hectares) in Oregon and Washington on Saturday, the Bureau of Land Management said on Twitter.
In southern Oregon, an apocalyptic scene of charred residential subdivisions and trailer parks stretched for miles along Highway 99 south of Medford through the neighboring communities of Phoenix and Talent.
Trump will visit California
In California, tens of thousands of firefighters were battling 28 major wildfires on Saturday afternoon, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Improving weather conditions had helped them achieve containment action on most of the fires.
The White House said US President Donald Trump, a Republican, will meet with federal and California officials on Monday. Trump said Western governors were partly responsible for the intense fire seasons in recent years, accusing them of poor forest management.
His Democratic opponent in the November election, Joe Biden, on Saturday linked the fires to climate change, echoing comments made a day earlier by California Governor Gavin Newsom.
Heavy smoke and ash from the fires have darkened the skies of the Pacific Northwest since Labor Day, creating some of the worst air quality levels in the world and pushing residents inside.
More than 4,000 homes and other structures have been cremated in California alone in the past three weeks.
In Portland, Oregon, where more than 100 days of political protests have become increasingly tense in recent weeks, the Multnomah County Sheriff berated residents for setting up their own checkpoints to stop cars after conspiracy theories have spread on social media that members of Black Lives Matter or Antifa were lighting fires. Local officials called the claims unfounded.
Facebook said on Saturday it was now suppressing false claims that the Oregon wildfires were started by certain groups.
“This is based on confirmation from law enforcement that these rumors are forcing local fire and police departments to divert resources from firefighting and public protection,” a spokesperson said. from Facebook.