Over 500,000 people have been told to leave Oregon as deadly wildfires eerily inch to gulp in cities of the heavily populated northwest region of the state.
over 100 wildfires raging in at least 12 Western US states have broken many records this year, and the Oregon fire is one of the deadliest, in terms of free-burning volume.
Dozens of fires are sweeping Oregon, with at least one of them being probed for a possible arson, media reports confirm. The evacuation order is estimated to cover 10% of the state’s population at 4.2 million people, the Oregon Office of Emergency Management reported late Thursday.
As a fire approached the city of Molalla, a community of over 9k people was asked to leave, the Associated Press reports. “Evacuate now” a police car rolled the streets announcing.
Gov Brown, a Democrat, said: “We have never seen this amount of uncontained fire across the state… This will not be a one-time event. Unfortunately, it is the bellwether of the future. We’re feeling the acute impacts of climate change.”
Southern Oregon just underwent a devastating blaze that took off hundreds of acres of a residential area, leaving them to ashes in the aftermath of the fires.
The growing number of people being evacuated from the fires is being temporarily set up in shelters provided by the state. Local news agency KOIN has published a list of shelters set up across Oregon.
In Clackamas County, of which Mollila is also a part of, two separate wildfires are threatening to merge into a bigger and deadlier blaze, local media reported. Winds are fueling the rage of the fires.
Most places in the state are under a ‘Level 3’ evacuation order which means ‘go now’ and the ones currently in the ‘Level 1’ and ‘Level 2’ evacuation order are asked to stay prepared, because scenes can change in the blink of an eye.
“The fire conditions in Oregon and Washington are probably the most extreme we have ever seen in our lifetime,” Oregon Fire Marshal’s Lance Lighty said at a press conference in Clackamas County on Thursday afternoon.
BBC environment correspondent Matt McGrath says while wildfires are fanned by strong winds, climate change and other human activities make these blazes bigger and more explosive.
Meanwhile, state officials in the disaster-laned states are also having to fight another outbreak apart from the fires and COVID-19 – misinformation.
According to reports, misinformation about a source of fire in the Pacific-North West is spreading rapidly in social media. Roumous are claiming sans evidence that the fires were lit by political activist groups Proud Boys, or Antifa.
Oregon state officials are urging people to dismiss such claims. “We are inundated with questions about things that are FAKE stories. Rumors make the job of protecting the community more difficult,” he office of the sheriff in Jackson County, Oregon, wrote on Facebook Thursday afternoon.