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Wildfires wreak havoc in western United States

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                Flames lick above vehicles on Highway 162 as the Bear Fire burns in Oroville, Calif., on Wednesday. The blaze, part of the lightning-sparked North Complex, expanded at a critical rate of spread as winds buffeted the region.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Flames lick above vehicles on Highway 162 as the Bear Fire burns in Oroville, Calif., on Wednesday. The blaze, part of the lightning-sparked North Complex, expanded at a critical rate of spread as winds buffeted the region.

The Latest on wildfires in the U.S. West:

5:25 p.m.

SALEM, Ore. — Authorities in Oregon now say more than 500,000 people statewide have been forced to evacuate because of wildfires.

The latest figures from Thursday evening come from the Oregon Office of Emergency Management. That’s over 10% of the state’s 4.2 million population.

More than 1,400 square miles (3,625 square kilometers) have burned this week in the state. Authorities say the wildfire activity was particularly acute Thursday afternoon in northwestern Oregon as hot, windy conditions continued.

At a news conference Thursday, Gov. Kate Brown said there have been fatalities but the exact number is not yet known. There have been at least three reported fire deaths in the state.

5 p.m.

WILSONVILLE, Ore. — The Oregon Department of Corrections says it is evacuating a prison out of an abundance of caution as two large wildfires in the area appear to be merging.

Authorities said Thursday afternoon they evacuated more than 1,300 adults in custody at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville, which houses mostly women.

Officials say those evacuated are being relocated and not released.

Wilsonville is about 16 miles (26 kilometers) south of Portland.

Earlier this week, fires triggered evacuations at three other prisons near Oregon’s capital city of Salem.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said Thursday afternoon that more than 80,000 people have had to evacuate because of wildfires burning across the state.

3:30 p.m.

SALEM, Ore. — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown now says more than 80,000 people have had to evacuate because of wildfires burning across the state.

Brown said on Twitter that the evacuations were ongoing. “If you’re advised to evacuate, do so immediately,” she said.

More than 1,400 square miles (3,625 square kilometers) have burned this week in the state. Authorities say the wildfire activity was particularly acute Thursday afternoon in northwestern Oregon as hot, windy conditions continued.

At a news conference Thursday, she said there have been fatalities but the exact number is not yet known. There have been at least three reported fire deaths in the state.

Brown said she had requested firefighting help from other states and the federal government.

2:20 p.m.

MALDEN, Wash. — Wildfires have scorched nearly 937 square miles (2,426 kilometers) in Washington state this week, Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday as he toured the devastated remains of the town of Malden.

“We’ve had this trauma all over Washington,” Inslee said, according to KHQ-TV. “But this is the place where the whole heart of the town was torn out.”

Malden is a farm town set among wheat fields about 35 miles south of Spokane, Washington.

Malden Mayor Chris Ferrell said residents only had minutes to get out of town Monday. No one was killed or seriously injured.

Inslee has declared a state of emergency to free up cash assistance for families in need. More than 80% of the homes in Malden were destroyed by the flames.

2:10 p.m.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The staggering scale of California’s wildfires in 2020 continues to grow.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says as of Thursday wildfires have scorched nearly 4,844 square miles (12,545 square kilometers) so far this year.

Six of the top 20 largest fires in state history have occurred this year as well.

California is now almost entirely free of Red Flag warnings for critical fire weather, but 14,000 firefighters remain on the lines of 29 major wildfires.

1:20 p.m.

SALEM, Ore. — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said more than 900,000 acres have burned across the state in the last several days — nearly double the amount of land that usually burns in a typical year.

At a news conference Thursday, she said there have been fatalities but the exact number is not yet known. There have been at least three reported fire deaths in the state.

The governor also said up to 40,000 people had to evacuate because of encroaching flames.

“We have never seen this amount of uncontained fire across the state,” Brown said.

The windy, hot conditions will likely continue through Thursday, she said, continuing to hamper firefighting efforts. Brown said she had requested firefighting help from other states and the federal government.

11:50 a.m.

OROVILLE, Calif. — California authorities say a wildfire that roared through foothills of the northern Sierra Nevada this week has destroyed or damaged about 2,000 structures, including homes and other buildings.

The damage estimate Thursday follows two days of powerful winds that sent an 8-mile-wide (12.8-kilometer) front of the North Complex fire bearing down on northeastern Butte County.

Cal Fire says there was major damage to communities including Berry Creek and Feather Falls.

Winds have moderated but authorities say more than 22,000 structures are still threatened, including the city of Oroville.

The improved weather is allowing more aggressive firefighting but heavy smoke is hampering use of aircraft.

11:20 a.m.

MALDEN, Wash. >> Wildfires have scorched nearly 937 square miles (2,426 kilometers) in Washington state this week, Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday as he toured the devastated remains of the town of Malden.

“We’ve had this trauma all over Washington,” Inslee said, according to KHQ-TV. “But this is the place where the whole heart of the town was torn out.”

Malden is a farm town set among wheat fields about 35 miles south of Spokane, Washington.

Malden Mayor Chris Ferrell said residents only had minutes to get out of town Monday. No one was killed or seriously injured.

Inslee has declared a state of emergency to free up cash assistance for families in need. More than 80% of the homes in Malden were destroyed by the flames.

11:10 a.m.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. >> The staggering scale of California’s wildfires in 2020 continues to grow.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says as of Thursday wildfires have scorched nearly 4,844 square miles (12,545 square kilometers) so far this year.

Six of the top 20 largest fires in state history have occurred this year as well.

California is now almost entirely free of Red Flag warnings for critical fire weather, but 14,000 firefighters remain on the lines of 29 major wildfires.

10:20 a.m.

SALEM, Ore. >> Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said more than 900,000 acres have burned across the state in the last several days — nearly double the amount of land that usually burns in a typical year.

At a news conference Thursday, she said there have been fatalities but the exact number is not yet known. There have been at least three reported fire deaths in the state.

The governor also said up to 40,000 people had to evacuate because of encroaching flames.

“We have never seen this amount of uncontained fire across the state,” Brown said.

The windy, hot conditions will likely continue through Thursday, she said, continuing to hamper firefighting efforts. Brown said she had requested firefighting help from other states and the federal government.

8 a.m.

CASPER, Wyo. >> Park officials say a fire in Wyoming near Yellowstone National Park has grown to 5 square miles.

The national park said in a statement Wednesday that hard frosts at night have killed plants and trees, which will aid the fire’s growth.

The so-called Lone Star Fire started on Aug. 22. Officials say it is expected to be contained by Oct. 30.

Firefighters are cutting down trees and heavy vegetation in the area to protect power lines, historic buildings and communication equipment.

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