Deadly wildfires rage in California, Oregon and Washington

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3:19 p.m. ET, September 10, 2020

More than 3 million acres have burned in California

From CNN's Stella Chan

Flames lick above vehicles on Highway 162 as the Bear Fire burns in Oroville, California, on Wednesday, September 9. The blaze, part of the lightning-sparked North Complex, expanded at a critical rate of spread as winds buffeted the region.
Flames lick above vehicles on Highway 162 as the Bear Fire burns in Oroville, California, on Wednesday, September 9. The blaze, part of the lightning-sparked North Complex, expanded at a critical rate of spread as winds buffeted the region. Noah Berger/AP

More than 3.1 million acres, twice the size of Delaware, have burned in California and 12 people have died as a result of the wildfires ravaging the state, according to a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) news release.

“This year’s fire season has been a record-breaking year, in not only the total amount of acres burned, but six of the top 20 largest wildfires in California history have occurred in 2020,” Cal Fire said.

Fires have destroyed more than 3,900 structures. At least 14,000 firefighters are battling 29 major fires up and down the state. 

The August Complex Fire in Tehama County took the top spot in the state’s list of largest wildfires, clocking in at 471,185 acres. It is 24% contained.

At least five of the state’s largest fires are active.  

The massive North Complex Fire, an amalgamation of blazes, including the Bear fire, is 247,358 acres and 23% contained. The blaze is ninth in the state’s largest wildfires list. Three people are dead as a result of the fire, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea announced last night, and at least a dozen are missing.

Parts of the city of Oroville are under evacuation orders while a portion of the town of Paradise, ravaged by the devastating 2018 Camp Fire, is under evacuation warnings.

The Creek Fire in Central California has scorched 175,893 acres and continues to burn out of control. The fire destroyed at least 361 structures and threatens over 14,000. The temperature is expected to return to seasonal averages with low humidity today.

The Bobcat Fire in the Angeles National Forest is 23,890 acres and firefighters have no containment. The blaze started Sunday and the cause is still under investigation. L.A. County foothill communities including Pasadena, Duarte, and Monrovia are under an evacuation warning.

The El Dorado Fire, sparked by a gender reveal mishap this weekend, consumed 12,610 acres in San Bernardino County and is 23% contained.

3:15 p.m. ET, September 10, 2020

What you need to know about the wildfires in Washington

Smoke rises from a hillside burned by a wildfire, Tuesday, September 8, near Sumner, Washington.
Smoke rises from a hillside burned by a wildfire, Tuesday, September 8, near Sumner, Washington. Ted S. Warren/AP

Wildfires are raging across the West Coast, with several of them are burning in Washington state.

Here are the latest updates from the Evergreen State:

  • Evacuations and destruction: The Sumner Grade Fire, just outside Tacoma, Washington, burned several homes and prompted hundreds of evacuations, CNN affiliate KOMO reported. On Wednesday, it was about 20% contained, the news station reported.
  • Most explosive fire in three decades: East Pierce Fire Chief Bud Backer is overseeing firefighters tackling the Sumner Grade Fire. In a Twitter post, Gov. Jay Inslee said the fire chief said he hadn't seen a fire explode like this one "in his 33 years of service. Climate change is making these fires more frequent, more expensive and far more dangerous," the governor wrote.
  • At least one death: Of the seven people killed in the wildfires across the West Coast, one of them is a child in Washington state who was killed in the Cold Springs Fire, officials said Wednesday.
2:35 p.m. ET, September 10, 2020

There are at least 37 active fires in Oregon

From CNN’s Gregory Lemos

The state of Oregon now has 37 active fires and at least 672,806 have burned, according to Oregon Office of Emergency Management Public Information Officer, Paula Negele.  

Damage from the fires have gotten so bad, Portland General Electric has stopped providing estimates of power restoration, according to their website.  

“Due to the volume of outages, it is difficult for us to accurately estimate a restoration time for each individual home or location. We understand this is frustrating and we appreciate your patience. We’ll update this information as we make our assessments and crews respond to each location,” their website said Thursday. 

The state of Oregon had 68,444 households without power as of 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday, according to poweroutage.us.

 

1:58 p.m. ET, September 10, 2020

Catch up on the latest wildfire updates from Oregon

Heather Marshall talks to her mother as she stands by the ruins of her home at Coleman Creek Estates mobile home park in Phoenix, Oregon, Thursday, September 10, after a wildfire swept through. The Marshalls lived at the park for 21 years.
Heather Marshall talks to her mother as she stands by the ruins of her home at Coleman Creek Estates mobile home park in Phoenix, Oregon, Thursday, September 10, after a wildfire swept through. The Marshalls lived at the park for 21 years. Paula Bronstein/AP

Wildfires are raging from California to Washington today, creating dangerous conditions and prompting evacuations along the Pacific Coast.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown warned residents that the current blazes could create the "greatest loss of human lives and property due to wildfire in our state's history."

Here's what we know so far about the wildfires in Oregon:

  • Almost half a million acres burned: Nearly 50 active wildfires in Oregon have consumed more than 470,000 acres across the state, according to the state's office of emergency management. Hundreds of homes and parts of several communities have been destroyed.
  • At least 3 dead: Three people were killed in fires in Oregon, including two in Marion County and one in Jackson County. "We also fear that this is not going to be the only folks we'll find deceased up there," Marion County Sheriff Joe Kast said.
  • 0% containment in one fire: Officials originally thought the Santiam Fire, initially called the Beachie Creek Fire, would likely grow to less than 500 acres, but a "historic" windstorm Monday fanned the flames and the blaze grew to more than 131,000 acres in a night. The fire has now burned more than 158,000 acres and is 0% contained.
1:36 p.m. ET, September 10, 2020

A wildfire in Northern California is the biggest in the state's history

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

While dozens of wildfires are burning across California, the August Complex Fire — currently raging in Northern California — has become the largest wildfire in state history.

Nearly 500,000 acres have burned in the Mendocino National Forest east of Redding and Chico, an area equal to about 736 square miles.

The August Complex was initially 37 separate fires that ignited from a lightning storm on Aug. 17. Many of those smaller fires merged to create larger complex. Containment is currently estimated at 24%. 

Three fires currently burning in the state are in the top five of California’s all-time list:

  1. August Complex in Mendocino, Tehema, Lake and Glenn Counties (currently burning)
  2. Mendocino Complex in Mendocino, Lake, Colusa and Glenn Counties (2018)
  3. SCU Lightning Complex in Santa Clara County (currently burning)
  4. LNU Lightning Complex in Napa, Sonoma and Lake Counties (currently burning)
  5. Thomas Fire in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties (2017)
1:15 p.m. ET, September 10, 2020

The US West Coast has the worst air quality in the world right now

NOAA/CIRA/RAMMB
NOAA/CIRA/RAMMB

Early morning satellite images from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reveal that the wildfire smoke continues to blanket most of the US West Coast Thursday morning.

Because of this, the air quality remains moderate to even hazardous across this region, including in all major cities on the West Coast. 

Hazardous air quality — which are areas with Air Quality Index (AQI) values of PM2.5 pollution well above the hazardous level of 300 — are being reported across the region. Some locations have readings reaching over 600.

These values constitute the worst air quality readings anywhere in the world at this moment, according to monitoring services such as Purple Air and AQICN.

Keep in mind that AQI may not account for larger particles such as ash, says the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

More detailed images show that the smoke is settling in and not moving out of the area anytime soon, meaning the smoke will be around Thursday and into the weekend. 

As the winds begin to shift today through this weekend, some of the smoke will move further inland. 

You can check the current air quality in your location here 

12:21 p.m. ET, September 10, 2020

Here are the latest updates on the wildfires in California

Firefighters watch the Bear Fire approach in Oroville, California, on September 9.
Firefighters watch the Bear Fire approach in Oroville, California, on September 9. Noah Berger/AP

Wildfires are burning across the the US's West Coast today.

If you're just reading in now, here's where the situation stands in California:

  • More than two dozen fires: More than 14,000 firefighters are battling 28 fires across the Golden State, according to the California Department of Fires and Forestry Protection.
  • At least 3 dead: Officials said they are working to recover the remains of three people who died in Butte County in the North Complex Fires.
  • Up from last year, thanks to climate change: Statewide, more than 2.5 million acres have been scorched statewide this year alone, according to Cal Fire, and Gov. Gavin Newsom has pointed to climate change as a primary factor in the wildfires plaguing his state. This time last year, California saw 4,927 fires that burned 118,000 acres, according to the governor. In 2020, there have been 7,606 blazes so far.
  • National parks closed: Yesterday, all 18 national forests in the state were ordered closed due to the "explosive growth" of wildfires, a notice from forest service officials said. Those temporary closures encompass more than 20 million acres of land.
11:42 a.m. ET, September 10, 2020

The thick smoke layer is expected to keep temperatures down across portions of California

From CNN's Judson Jones 

The San Francisco Bay Bridge is seen along Harrison Street under a smoke-filled sky in San Francisco, California, on September 9.
The San Francisco Bay Bridge is seen along Harrison Street under a smoke-filled sky in San Francisco, California, on September 9. Brittany Hosea-Small/AFP/Getty Images

The winds have died down, improving wildfire conditions across California. Dry weather will continue to prevail, though, as wildfires continue to produce a smoke blanket across much of the state. This smoke is having an effect on the weather forecasts across the region, typically reducing what would be higher temperatures. 

"Don't be surprised by high-temperature forecast busts in this regime," the National Weather Service in Hanford said.

Hanford

The smoke from the fires in the region will not only continue to make for poor air quality; it will also hamper the temperature forecast in the region. Thicker smoke will make it cooler than the temperature should be because of the blocked the solar insolation, the Hanford weather office said. 

Unfortunately, the dry weather conditions, one ingredient for fire growth, will continue across this region.

Los Angeles 

Across the Los Angeles metro, temperatures are forecast to be above normal through the weekend. But, wildfire smoke in the area could keep temperatures closer to normal, says the National Weather Service in Los Angeles. 

Winds will remain offshore but are not forecast to be a strong as Wednesday's winds. 

San Francisco

Smoky and hazy conditions will likely prevail in the San Francisco Bay Area through the week's remainder, says the weather office in San Francisco. 

Thursday morning smoke was still mixing in with fog and a deep marine layer of clouds. 

It could be another day with a similar-looking sky to yesterday's, that had a similar hue to that of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Sacramento 

Fire conditions are improved today across Northern California, but the smoke is likely to hang around. Friday and Saturday could see reduced smoke concentration allowing temperatures to rise a bit higher than average. But this highly depends on the direction of the wind and how much smoke remains over the region, says the Sacramento weather office.  

You can check the local forecast here.

11:03 a.m. ET, September 10, 2020

Resources "by the millions of dollars" already going to families impacted by wildfires, Pence says

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez and Kevin Liptak

Vice President Mike Pence speaks at a campaign event on September 1 in Exeter, Pennsylvania.
Vice President Mike Pence speaks at a campaign event on September 1 in Exeter, Pennsylvania. John Minchillo/AP

Vice president Mike Pence addressed what the federal government is doing to assist with ongoing wildfires across the west, telling Fox News Thursday morning that the Trump administration is working closely with governors of impacted states.

 “We’re working very closely with governors in states that are effected. I think when Gov. Gavin Newsom submitted a disaster declaration, President Trump approved that in roughly 24 hours. We’ve issued 22 separate federal fire support grants and we’ve already got resources by the millions of dollars that are flowing to impacted families,” Pence said.

He continued, “But look, my daughter and son-in-law live in California. Our hearts go out to all of those enduring or threatened by these fires and I want to assure everyone that we’re going to make sure that those courageous firefighters, that homeowners and businesses have the full support of the federal government.”

President Trump has yet to offer any public statement of support during historic wildfires. The President last weighed in the devastating fires in California in the middle of August, when another round of blazes was burning north of the Bay Area. His familiar response was to blame the state’s forest management. 

“They’re starting again in California,” he said at a rally. “I said, you gotta clean your floors, you gotta clean your forests — there are many, many years of leaves and broken trees and they’re like, like, so flammable, you touch them and it goes up."