Story at a glance
- Thousands of residents have been forced to evacuate and many more are expected to do so as the fires rage on.
- Hundreds of homes have been destroyed.
- Brown said the state is experiencing the worst fire conditions in three decades as dry air, dry brush and hot winds persist.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) on Wednesday warned that wind-fanned wildfires moving across the Pacific Northwest region will lead to the greatest loss of property and lives from wildfires in the state’s history.
Firefighters are currently battling 35 fires across Oregon as more than 400,000 acres are burning. Thousands of Oregonians have been forced to evacuate their homes, and many more will be required to do so in the coming hours.
“Over the last 24 hours, Oregon has experienced unprecedented fire, with significant damage and devastating consequences across the state,” Brown said during a news briefing. “I want to be upfront in saying that we expect to see a great deal of loss, both in structures and human lives. This could be the greatest loss of human lives and property due to wildfire in our state’s history.”
While no deaths have been reported at this time, the governor said early reports indicate the towns of Detroit in Central Oregon; Blue River and Vida in Lane County; and Phoenix and Talent in Southern Oregon are substantially destroyed. Hundreds of homes have already been lost.
Brown said the state is experiencing the worst fire conditions in three decades as dry air, dry brush and hot winds persist. Strong winds are continuing to fuel the fires and push them into towns and cities.
The governor for the first time invoked the Fire Conflagration Act for the entire state, which gives the state fire marshal the power to direct and deploy resources where they are needed. Brown also requested a federal emergency declaration.
Fires in the Pacific Northwest exploded Monday due to a late-summer wind storm that brought gusts of wind up to 75 mph.
In Washington state, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said more than 330,000 acres burned over a 24-hour period. That’s an area larger than the acreage that typically burns over an entire fire season, according to the Associated Press.
A fast-moving wildfire fueled by extremely high winds destroyed an estimated 80 percent of the homes and structures in the small town of Malden, which is about 35 miles south of Spokane, Wash.