Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Winds a Worry as Death Toll Reaches 35 From West Coast Fires
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 4 years ago on
September 14, 2020

Share

BEAVERCREEK, Ore. — Nearly all the dozens of people reported missing after a devastating blaze in southern Oregon have been accounted for, authorities said over the weekend as crews battled wildfires that have killed at least 35 from California to Washington state.

The flames up and down the West Coast have destroyed neighborhoods, leaving nothing but charred rubble and burned-out cars, forced tens of thousands to flee and cast a shroud of smoke that has given Seattle, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, some of the worst air quality in the world.

The smoke filled the air with an acrid metallic smell like pennies and spread to nearby states. While making it difficult to breathe, it helped firefighters by blocking the sun and turning the weather cooler as they tried to get a handle on the blazes, which were slowing in some places.

But warnings of low moisture and strong winds that could fan the flames added urgency to the battle. The so-called red flag warnings stretched from hard-hit southern Oregon to Northern California and extended through Monday evening.

Lexi Soulios, her husband and son were afraid they would have to evacuate for a second time because of the weather. They left their small southern Oregon town of Talent last week when they saw a “big, huge flow of dark smoke coming up,” then went past roadblocks Friday to pick through the charred ruins of their home.

While they are staying farther south in Ashland, known for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, she said by text message that the forecast may mean they could be on the move again.

“So this isn’t over yet but we just had the car checked so we feel prepared,” Lexi Soulios wrote.

Authorities last week reported as many as 50 people could be missing after a wildfire in the Ashland area. But the Jackson County sheriff’s office said late Saturday that four people had died in the blaze and that the number of missing was down to one.

Kristopher Smith holds his dog Tripp outside his tent at an evacuation center at the Milwaukie-Portland Elks Lodge, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Oak Grove, Ore. Smith evacuated from Molalla, Oregon which was threatened by the Riverside Fire. (AP Photo/John Locher)

‘We’ve Never Had Any Form of Natural Disaster’

At least 10 people have been killed in the past week throughout Oregon. Officials have said more people are missing from other fires, and the number of fatalities is likely to rise, though they have not said how high the toll could go as they search. In California, 24 people have died, and one in Washington state. Thousands of homes and other buildings have burned.

Barbara Rose Bettison, 25, left her farm among the trees and fields of Eagle Creek, outside Portland, when a sheriff’s deputy knocked on her door Tuesday. They drove away on a road that became an ominous dividing line, with blue skies on one side and the other filled with black and brown smoke.

She took shelter at an Elks Lodge near Portland, where evacuees wrapped themselves in blankets and set up tents out back.

“It’s terrifying. We’ve never had any form of natural disaster,” she said.

Bettison, a UPS driver, was able to get out with her chickens, rabbits and cats. She hasn’t been back, but neighbors said it is so smoky they can’t see their hands in front of their faces.

“I’m hoping there has not been too much damage because it would break my heart,” she said.

Farther south in the town of Talent, Dave Monroe came to his burned home, partially hoping he’d find his three cats.

“We thought we’d get out of this summer with no fires,” he said. “There is something going on, that’s for sure, man. Every summer we’re burning up.”

Numerous studies in recent years have linked bigger wildfires in the U.S. to global warming from the burning of coal, oil and gas.

The Democratic governors of all three states say the fires are a consequence of climate change, taking aim at President Donald Trump ahead of his visit Monday to California for a fire briefing.

Oregon Firefighters Got Their First Real Break Sunday To Take Showers

“It is maddening right now that when we have this cosmic challenge to our communities, with the entire West Coast of the United States on fire, to have a president to deny that these are not just wildfires, these are climate fires,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

At a rally in Nevada, Trump blamed inadequate forest management, which White House adviser Peter Navarro echoed on CNN’s “State of the Union,” saying that for many years in California, “particularly because of budget cutbacks, there was no inclination to manage our forests.”

Firefighter Steve McAdoo has run from one blaze to another in Oregon for six days, seeing buildings burn and trees light up like candles.

“We lost track of time because you can’t see the sun and you’ve been up for so many days,” he said. “Forty-eight to 72 hours nonstop, you feel like you’re in a dream.”

As he and his team battled the blazes, McAdoo worried about his wife and daughter at home just miles away. They evacuated safely, but at times he could communicate with them only in one-word text messages: “busy.”

McAdoo and other firefighters got their first real break Sunday to take showers, shave and check their equipment. And though it’s a faint shadow of its usual self, he can finally see the sun.

“It’s nice today to at least see the dot in the sky,” he said.

Meanwhile, Oregon’s fire marshal, who resigned after being placed on leave amid a personnel investigation, says he was trying to help a colleague and “didn’t do anything wrong.”

Jim Walker told TV news station KOIN in Portland that state police leaders put him on leave after he tried to help a co-worker whose family was missing in a fire zone, saying his superiors decided he had overstepped his authority.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

Lauryn Hill, Tyla and More Will Perform at the 2024 BET Awards. Here’s What to Know About the Show

DON'T MISS

From Globe Trotting to Globe Tripping: Why Psychedelic Vacations Are on Trend

DON'T MISS

Find Out Which Lobbying Groups Get Their Way Most Often in the California Legislature

DON'T MISS

Here’s Why Ukraine Should Seek Peace

DON'T MISS

Fresno County Gets National Recognition for Poverello House Project

DON'T MISS

You Don’t Think Corn Dogs Are Haute Cuisine? These Chefs, Using Alligator Sausage, Beg to Differ.

DON'T MISS

Investigators Have Name & Face for Suspected Arsonist Who Left Notes at Fresno Homes

DON'T MISS

Gavin Newsom and Top Democrats Are Deciding California’s Budget Behind Closed Doors

DON'T MISS

Fresno State Is 1 of Carnegie Foundation’s 25 Leadership for Public Purpose Colleges

DON'T MISS

As the Flag Drops at Le Mans, Remembering the 3 Americans Who Won in 1978

UP NEXT

Tyson Foods Heir Suspended as CFO After Second Alcohol-Related Arrest

UP NEXT

Supreme Court, Siding With Starbucks, Makes It Harder for NLRB to Win Court Orders in Labor Disputes

UP NEXT

US Reporter Evan Gershkovich, Jailed in Russia on Espionage Charges, to Stand Trial, Officials Say

UP NEXT

Supreme Court Rules California Man Can’t Trademark ‘Trump Too Small’

UP NEXT

Drunk Driver Gets 15 Years to Life for Deadly Fresno Taco Truck Crash

UP NEXT

Rep. Costa Blasts GOP House For Holding AG Merrick Garland in Contempt

UP NEXT

AP Sources: 8 Individuals Possibly Linked to Islamic State Arrested in US

UP NEXT

NBA Legend and Logo Jerry West Dies at 86

UP NEXT

Shaver Lake Drowning Victim Identified by Sheriff’s Office

UP NEXT

Cold Stone Creamery Could Shell out Cash for Not Putting Pistachios in Pistachio Ice Cream

Here’s Why Ukraine Should Seek Peace

17 hours ago

Fresno County Gets National Recognition for Poverello House Project

17 hours ago

You Don’t Think Corn Dogs Are Haute Cuisine? These Chefs, Using Alligator Sausage, Beg to Differ.

17 hours ago

Investigators Have Name & Face for Suspected Arsonist Who Left Notes at Fresno Homes

1 day ago

Gavin Newsom and Top Democrats Are Deciding California’s Budget Behind Closed Doors

1 day ago

Fresno State Is 1 of Carnegie Foundation’s 25 Leadership for Public Purpose Colleges

1 day ago

As the Flag Drops at Le Mans, Remembering the 3 Americans Who Won in 1978

1 day ago

Paw-sitively Spikey: The Rise of a Supermutt!

1 day ago

Supreme Court Deals Blow to Environmental Law Relied on by Housing Opponents

1 day ago

The Latest | Hezbollah Says Its Intensified Attacks Show Israel That All-out War Would Be Costly

1 day ago

Lauryn Hill, Tyla and More Will Perform at the 2024 BET Awards. Here’s What to Know About the Show

NEW YORK — The 2024 BET Awards are fast approaching. Last year’s show celebrated 50 years of hip-hop with tributes to the genre’s earl...

15 hours ago

15 hours ago

Lauryn Hill, Tyla and More Will Perform at the 2024 BET Awards. Here’s What to Know About the Show

17 hours ago

From Globe Trotting to Globe Tripping: Why Psychedelic Vacations Are on Trend

17 hours ago

Find Out Which Lobbying Groups Get Their Way Most Often in the California Legislature

17 hours ago

Here’s Why Ukraine Should Seek Peace

17 hours ago

Fresno County Gets National Recognition for Poverello House Project

17 hours ago

You Don’t Think Corn Dogs Are Haute Cuisine? These Chefs, Using Alligator Sausage, Beg to Differ.

1 day ago

Investigators Have Name & Face for Suspected Arsonist Who Left Notes at Fresno Homes

1 day ago

Gavin Newsom and Top Democrats Are Deciding California’s Budget Behind Closed Doors

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend