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Oregon wildfires burn over 1 million acres of land
Portland, September 12, 2020
Massive wildfires in Oregon have scorched over 1 million acres of land, while first responders were trying to locate dozens of missing people in Jackson, Lane and Marion counties, state Governor Kate Brown said.
In a statement on Friday, she said: "As of now, there are early reports from our state police that there are dozens of missing persons related to the fires specifically in Jackson, Lane and Marion counties."
The governor did not give any further details.
She also said that fewer than 100,000 residents were asked to evacuate dismissing an earlier report that 500,000 people were told to leave their homes.
According to Brown, the half-million figure applies to people in households under any kind of evacuation order, including the mildest Level 1 rating.
State officials said on Thursday night that "estimated 500,000 Oregonians have been evacuated and that number continues to grow."
So far, Oregon has reported four fatalities due to the blazes.
Doug Grafe, chief of fire protection at the Oregon Department of Forestry, said that firefighting teams are battling 16 large fires.
"We have not seen the likes of this fire in our state ever before," he was quoted as saying in a report by OregonLive.
According to Grafe, eight of the state's big fires might continue burning "until the winter rains fall".
At least one blaze in Oregon - the Almeda Fire, one of the most destructive in the state - is being treated as suspected arson.
Along with Oregon, California and Washington state are the worst affected by the widlfires.
Meanwhile, the August Complex Fire, which became California's largest ever wildfire thiss week, has merged with several other blazes and grown to 746,607 acres, up from 471,185 a day earlier, authorities said.
In a statement on Friday, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said the blaze was 25 per cent contained.
According to Cal Fire, five of the 20 largest fires in California's history are currently raging across the state.
The SCU and LNU lightning complex fires, largely contained in the San Francisco Bay Area, are the third and fourth largest, respectively.
Two other ongoing blazes in the top 20 are the North Complex, which has been burning since August 18 in Plumas County, at the ninth position, and the Creek Fire in Fresno and Madera counties at number 16.
Twenty-nine major wildfires were still burning across California as of Friday, with approximately 14,000 firefighters battling them, Cal Fire reported.
The National Park Service announced the closure of Muir Woods, Alcatraz and Fort Point in the San Francisco Bay Area due to unhealthy air quality throughout the region.
The executive director of San Francisco's Department of Emergency Management, Mary Ellen Carroll, advised residents Friday that with smoke making the air unhealthy to breathe, people should stay inside with doors and windows closed.
"If you are able to stay home, we encourage you to stay home," she was quoted as saying in a San Francisco Chronicle report.
The state's death toll has also continued to rise.
Authorities in Butte County, north of the capital Sacramento, said 10 bodies have been found in the last two days, while another 16 people are reported as missing.
The overall death toll in California currently stood at 20 since August 15, when the first series of blazes began.