Hundreds of Thousands Evacuated in Oregon, Death Toll Rises in California As West Coast Fires Continue to Rage
A cold front predicted next week may being some much needed relief.
Firefighters continued to battle raging wildfires on the west coast on Friday as evacuation orders multiplied and the death toll rose, according to reports.
About 500,000 people have since been told to evacuate in Oregon with more evacuation orders possible, according to the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, which is more than 10 percent of the state’s entire population of about 4.2 million.
Residents are being told to leave as strong winds have driven wildfires in the state, already burning more than 300,000 acres. In one case, a mandatory evacuation order was issued for an entire community of about 9,000 people south of Portland, The Associated Press reported.
“Our Oregon firefighters and the emergency management community have been fully engaged on these devastating fires, including the many first responders who have been personally affected by the evacuations, power outages and destruction. Their efforts, stamina and response are nothing short of heroic,” Oregon’s OEM Director, Andrew Phelps, said in a statement.
In northern California, 10 people have now been confirmed dead and 16 more remain missing from the North Complex fire, which shot through the Sierra Nevada foothills, the AP reported. On Friday, it was moving more slowly due to easing winds and shade provided by smoke that lowered the temperature.
More than 2,000 homes and buildings have also been burned in The North Complex fire. Its fatalities are in addition to several others who have died in California, Oregon, and Washington from the spate of blazes.
In total, wildfires have burned a record of more than 3.1 million acres in California, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or CAL FIRE. The state has seen more than 2,650 more fires and a nearly 2,000 percent increase in acres burned from Jan. 1 to Sept. 7, compared to last year, CAL FIRE noted in a tweet.
But a glimmer of hope prevailed as changing weather patterns next week could bring modest relief, The Weather Channel reported, with the jet stream forecasted to return to the Pacific Northwest bringing a modest cold front. In turn, Seattle and Portland could see the first 0.1 inches of rainfall in three weeks, TWC noted.
In California, however, the chance of rain will likely only touch the very northwest of the state and gusty winds ahead of that cold front could complicate firefighting efforts.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.