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Seven people dead in Oregon wildfires
Portland, September 13, 2020
Seven people have been confirmed dead, while dozens remain unaccounted for as historic wildfires continue to rage throughout the US state of Oregon, officials said.
The fires have scorched more than 1 million acres throughout the state, media reports said
The figure is about twice the yearly average over the past 10 years, according to a report by OregonLive.
The blazes have caused widespread evacuations, forcing more than 40,000 to flee their homes.
Many evacuations remain in effect Saturday, while some have been downgraded.
Air quality of Oregon's largest city of Portland was the worst across the world on Saturday morning because of the fires.
The National Weather Service's Portland office said air quality will likely remain poor through the weekend.
Health experts have advised all residents to stay indoors unless absolutely necessary.
Oregon fire officials are also dealing with the 130,000-acre Riverside Fire at 0 per cent containment and Lionshead Fire at 138,000 acres and just 5 per cent containment.
Meanwhile, the Oregon State Police on Saturday announced Fire Marshal Jim Walker had been put on paid leave.
Mariana Ruiz-Temple, Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal, has been appointed the acting fire marshal.
"Mariana is assuming this position as Oregon is in an unprecedented crisis which demands an urgent response," Travis Hampton, the state police superintendent, said in a statement.
"This response and the circumstances necessitated a leadership change," he added.
Besides Oregon, massive wildfires were also raging in California, Washington, Colorado, Idaho and Utah.
Meanwhile, Southern California remained shrouded in a blanket of smoke on as two massive wildfires continued to rage in the region with little containment.
A smoke advisory was in effect in most of Los Angeles County and parts of Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties due to the Bobcat Fire burning in the Angeles National Forest which has scorched 29,245 acres with only 6 per cent containment, reports said.
In the San Bernardino Mountains, the 14,043 acre El Dorado Fire, which erupted on September 5, was contained by 39 per cent Saturday noon.
A map updated by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) showed air quality in the region during this weekend is expected to range from moderate to unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as children, elderly, and people with respiratory or heart disease.
In some areas near the wildfire scenes, the air quality is forecast as "unhealthy" level.
"Breathing in smoke can aggravate lung disease, cause asthma attacks, cause acute bronchitis, and increase the risk of respiratory infections," the National Weather Service warned on its official website.
The SCAQMD issued a smoke advisory every day since the El Dorado and Bobcat fires erupted last weekend and brought ash, dust and debris across the region.
Additionally, smoke from wildfires in Northern and Central California is making its way south.
Meanwhile, evacuation warnings remained in the cities of Duarte, Bradbury, Monrovia, Arcadia, Sierra Madre, Pasadena and Altadena, which stand along the foothill of Santa Ana Mountain where the Angeles National Forest is located.
Meanwhile, the total number of deaths in the state's recent blazes has increased to 22.
Uncontained wildfires have so far scorched more than 2.8 million acres of land, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The August Complex Fire is now the largest in state history, according to the Department.
"Grateful for the brave firefighters and first responders who are on the frontlines battling these historic fires. Stay safe," California Governor Gavin Newsom tweeted on Saturday.
The White House said on Saturday that President Donald Trump will visit McClellan Park in Sacramento County on Monday to be briefed on the fires by local and federal officials.