At Least 7 People Killed In West Coast Wildfires; Dangerous Winds Forecast To Ease

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Firefighters cut defensive lines and light backfires to protect structures behind a CalFire fire station at the Bear Fire, part of the North Lightning Complex of fires in the Berry Creek area of Butte County, Calif., on Wednesday.

Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images


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Vehicles were destroyed by a wildfire in Malden, Wash., on Tuesday. Large parts of the West Coast are under warnings for elevated fire weather threats Thursday, but there may soon be a measure of relief if fire-driving winds decrease as expected.

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‘I Heard Popping And Houses Blowing Up’: Deadly Wildfires Rage On West Coast

In California, three people died as the fast-growing Bear Fire forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes in Yuba and Butte counties, according to Capital Public Radio. Local officials did not offer details about those deaths when they initially announced them.

Evacuation orders include part of Paradise – the community devastated by the Camp Fire in 2018. Nearby residents say they’re vividly recalling that tragedy this week.

«People said, ‘Oh, our tires were melting, you know, and just scared to death and getting burned,» Pamela Newton tells Capital Public Radio. «And that’s all I could think about.»

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Butte County firefighters watch as flames quickly spread across a road at the Bear Fire in Oroville, Calif., on Wednesday. The local sheriff says three people died as a result of fires in the area.

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Patricia Fouts sits with her dog, Murphy, and other evacuated residents of a senior living home in an evacuation center at the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem, Ore., on Tuesday. Their Marian Estates senior living home in Sublimity, Ore., was evacuated early Tuesday as a wildfire closed in on the area.

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A smoky haze blanketed San Francisco on Wednesday. California has already seen more than 2.5 million acres burn this year.

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A smoky haze blanketed San Francisco on Wednesday. California has already seen more than 2.5 million acres burn this year.

Brittany Hosea-Small/AFP via Getty Images

Dozens of unpredictable and large fires over such a large geographic area has strained firefighting resources. While some neighboring states have pitched in to help, the effort has become international.

«Federal fire managers say Canadian and Mexican fire crews are now helping out on the West Coast,» NPR’s Kirk Siegler reports. «And the agency is requesting more help in the form of 10 hand crews from the U.S. military.»

Those crews might get a break if the winds drop, which would be welcome news along the coast but less so in inland areas — as the massive banks of smoke that have accrued along the Pacific coast would start to move eastward.

A low-level wind pattern has been driving smoke to the west for several days, blanketing cities such as Seattle and San Francisco with an eerie, orange haze. As the wind direction shifts, «smoke from the wildfires may waft and settle inland,» the NWS says.

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