Seven more people died on Friday in a wildfire in northern California in the United States, bringing the toll in the calamity to 10, AP reported. Rescuers are still looking for 16 missing people. A team of anthropologists from Chico State University are helping in the search. However, Reuters said 11 people have died in California so far.
Around 5 lakh people have been evacuated from the US state of Oregon, about an eighth of the state’s population, Reuters reported. Four people have died from the blazes in southern Oregon so far, and one has died in Washington state.
The total number of deaths in wildfires on the US West Coast has reached at least 15.
Among those unaccounted for in California are an elderly couple who told their son that they would escape the blaze by finding shelter in a pond, Reuters reported. More than 2,000 homes and other buildings have been burned down in the wildfires, brought about by lightning.
In southern California, a massive wildfire has scorched more than 10,000 acres of land since September 5 morning. It is one of the 25 major blazes that firefighters are currently battling across California, where wildfires have burned at least 2.2 million acres this year so far, according to the California Fire Department. Around 14,000 firefighters are combating the blazes.
The police have opened a criminal arson investigation into the Oregon fire, Ashland Police Chief Tighe O’Meara said. Four Oregon police departments have warned people of fake online messages appearing to be from law enforcement that blamed left-wing anti-fascists and right-wing activists for starting the wildfires.
The fires in Oregon blazed through many communities in the Cascade mountain range as well as areas of coastal rain forest. Among those dead in Oregon are a 12-year-old boy and his dog, who were found in a charred car.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown said some 9,00,000 acres (3,64,220 hectares) of land has burned down. “This will not be a onetime event,” Brown said. “We are feeling the acute impacts of climate change.” According to climate scientists, global warming has contributed to greater extremes in wet and dry seasons, causing vegetation to flourish then dry out, leaving ample scope for wildfires to begin.
Meanwhile, in eastern Washington, a fire has destroyed most of Malden town.