OR braces for "mass fatality incident" as fires near Portland

Pablo Tucker
September 12, 2020

A firefighter puts out a hot spot along Highway 38 northwest of Forrest Falls, Calif., as the El Dorado Fire continues to burn Thursday afternoon, September 10, 2020.

While California, he said, was investing in green technology and regulating vehicle emissions, the fires ravaging the entire West Coast were a grim preview of what the rest of the country may soon face if policies and priorities did not change nationally.

The bad toll of California's wildfires became more evident as a mother confirmed her 16-year-old son was among those killed when an inferno tore through several hamlets in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada this week.

But the numbers alone do not tell the story.

A 12th person died in Siskiyou County in far northern California, state fire authority CalFire reported, providing no further details.

OR defines "mass fatality incident" as one that causes death and suffering which can not be met by usual individual or community resources, according to the Washington Post.

State officials say 19 people were killed in California, two in OR, and one in Washington.

"The debate is over around climate change".

The immediate good news, he said, was the weather was beginning to cooperate, with winds settling down and the possibility of modest rain.

About 20 people were hospitalized with burns; others broke limbs in the panic to flee, Connelly said. A team of anthropologists from Chico State University were helping in the search, sheriff's Capt. Derek Bell said. The fire burned hundreds of homes and also had an ignition point in Ashland near a spot where a man was found dead. Saturday's high temperature was expected to top out at 80 degrees or less.

Among those unaccounted for were Sandy Butler and her husband, who had called their son to say they planned to escape the flames in a pond. "The wind sucks the life out of everything", she said.

"It's just as devastating as Paradise", he said, referring to the town 10 miles away that had 26,000 residents when it was destroyed.

More than 68,000 people were under evacuation orders in California where the largest fire in state history has burned over 740,000 acres (299,470 hectares) in the Mendocino National Forest around 120 miles (190 km) northwest of Sacramento.

The two blazes are among several that have burned some 1.3 million acres in the state, killing at least three people and causing smoke to billow across the region.

The monstrous fires are moving so quickly that they're overwhelming fire crews.

Downtown Los Angeles lis in the background, looking south along the 110 freeway through the smoke from the Bobcat and El Dorado fires, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020.

President Donald Trump spoke with Newsom "to express his condolences for the loss of life and reiterate the administration's full support to help those on the front lines of the fires", according to White House spokesman Judd Deere.

California accounts for the bulk of fire-related deaths, 19 in all, including eight from blazes that began in August and were still burning this week.

A 12-year-old boy was found dead with his dog inside a burned-out auto and his grandmother was believed to have succumbed after flames engulfed an area near Lyons, about 50 miles (80 km) south of Portland, the Marion County Sheriff's Office said.

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