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Fires in the United States: at least 8 dead including a baby, thousands of evacuees


Several thousand Americans have been evacuated because of the fires that continue to ravage much of the west coast of the country.

The flames seem unstoppable.

Historic-scale fires continued to devastate the west coast of the United States on Thursday, killing at least eight people, including an infant, and forcing thousands of residents to flee.

The fires spread from Washington state in the north, bordering Canada, to San Diego, in the far south of California, fueled by chronic drought and high winds that appeared to be weakening Thursday.

Fires in California: "The situation is more and more catastrophic"

These fires, considered by some to be of an “unprecedented” scale, have already killed eight people in the past 24 hours.

The authorities fear a much heavier toll when relief can access all the disaster areas.

Losses "in buildings and human lives"

In California, three people died in Butte County, and a fourth in a remote and wilderness area of ​​Siskiyou County, on the border with Oregon.

In this state, three victims of the flames have already been identified and the inhabitants of Estacada, a rural town located about fifty kilometers south-east of Portland, have been ordered to evacuate.

Jason Valean, 29, has left his home with his two large dogs and is waiting to find his mother, who has returned home to open the pen for his pigs, who will thus have a chance to escape the flames.

“The whole other side is on fire,” he says, pointing to the orange smoke rising from the mountain.

Oregon is facing fires "unprecedented in the history" of the state, according to its governor, Kate Brown, who expected Wednesday "many losses, in terms of buildings and human lives."

Last minute evacuations

Further south, near Fresno, California, other residents also had to flee within minutes.

"I did not think we were going to be evacuated, it was done at the last minute," said Leanna Mikesler, a resident of the village of Meadow Lake threatened by the fire called Creek Fire.

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“We had to pack our bags, do what we can and help our neighbors,” she added in front of an emergency accommodation center.

A man and his children walk through a burnt-out neighborhood in Phoenix, Oregon.

Carlos Barria / REUTERS  

The fire burned more than 70,000 hectares, sowing desolation in its path: charred car wrecks, houses of which only the brick chimney remains ...

About 360 buildings were destroyed, according to firefighters who deployed nearly 1,000 men to fight the flames in the Sierra National Forest, smothering the outbreaks with water or earth.


Fires in California: why such frequent and important fires

Faced with the fire, several thousand people were evacuated, operations made even more difficult by the coronavirus epidemic.

"We will not give up"

In Fresno, the Red Cross requisitioned hundreds of hotel rooms to isolate evacuees and prevent the spread of Covid-19.

"We placed (in the shelter) more than 600 people Tuesday evening and the evening before," explained Cindy Huge, a spokesperson for the organization.

Evacuees receive three meals a day and water, she added.

Maintaining physical distancing is an ongoing challenge.

Burning hills in Omak, WA.

Karen Ducey / Getty Images / AFP  

More than 200,000 hectares went up in smoke in Washington State, according to Governor Jay Inslee, who on Thursday denounced the catastrophic consequences of climate change.

"We will not abandon the future of this state in the face of climate change," he said on Twitter.

“I will think about these fires and their impacts on our populations when we make our next decisions to fight climate change,” he added.

One-year-old baby found dead

The governor also paid tribute to the memory of a one-year-old baby found dead by rescue teams near his severely burned parents.

They were trying to escape the blaze, about 200 km from Seattle.

“The child's family and their community will never be the same again,” said Jay Inslee.

In California, more than 20 fires are raging and this year the fire has consumed more than 12,500 km2 in the state, a record since these data were recorded in 1987.

San Francisco plunged under a red sky because of the fires

Near Los Angeles, the "Bobcat Fire", still out of control, devastated more than 9,000 hectares, according to firefighters.

Evacuation orders were also issued near San Diego, where more than 7,000 acres burned in four days in the Valley Fire, according to local authorities.

Source: leparis

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