HHS declares public health emergency in OR due to wildfire smoke

Pablo Tucker
September 18, 2020

Washington, Sep 18 (IANS) Massive plumes of smoke from the historic wildfires now raging along the US West Coast were being seen thousands of kilometres away in Europe, as far away as the Netherlands and Germany, according to scientists.

The West Coast fires killed at least 35 people across California, Oregon and Washington state in the last week, forced hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate their homes and burned more than 5 million acres.

The Bay Area, under a choking blanket of smoke for four weeks, set another record for consecutive warnings about hazardous air.

Eight deaths have been confirmed in OR, with 12 people reported unaccounted for as search teams continued to scour incinerated towns for the missing.

Inslee said that Washington state was now in position to help its neighbors, if in a small way, by providing some of its resources to Oregon.

Specifically, Parrington said in an email, the total estimated wildfire-related carbon emissions in megatonnes of carbon so far this year for California are 23.4 from January 1 through September 14, 7.4 for OR, 1.5 for Washington and 56.0 for the USA total.

Trump recently cited Austria and other European countries as models of good forest management that USA states like California, which has seen devastating wildfires lately, should learn from.

In addition to playing the role of a climate change feedback, a much broader impact of the flames has been unhealthy air quality, with days of noxious pale to orange-tinged skies hovering near ground level across the west.

As fires continue to spread through California and much of the West Coast, impacted communities need your support.

With improved weather finally enabling fire crews to take the offensive, Pettner has been helping beat back the state's largest conflagration this season - the 190,000-acre Beachie Creek fire.

The Holiday Farm fire near Redmond, Oregon has destroyed over 171,000 acres (69,000 hectares) and is only 10 per cent contained.

"Just like the soldiers supporting fire suppression efforts in Northern California, the Marines and sailors who will assist in this mission in Central California are trained and equipped with all of the necessary gear to keep them safe, to include in a COVID-19 environment".

OR is unaccustomed to the size and number of blazes that it has been experiencing, which have gained ground due to drought conditions and high winds. "After watching that fire I don't think you can do enough". One fire-related fatality has been confirmed in Washington state.

In the worst-hit state of California, authorities said 17,000 firefighters were battling 25 major fires, with 25 killed, while hundreds of thousands of people had been evacuated, and nearly 8,000 homes and structures incinerated.

"We come from a perspective, humbly, where we submit the science is in and observed evidence is self-evident: that climate change is real, and that is exacerbating this", the Democratic governor said during a meeting with the president.

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