Latest: Over 900 square miles scorched in Washington fires
The Latest on wildfires in the U.S. West (all times local):
MALDEN, Wash. — Wildfires have scorched nearly 937 square miles (2,426 kilometers) in Washington state this week, Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday as he toured the devastated remains of the town of Malden.
That’s more than in any year in the state’s history except for 2015, Inslee said, calling it “the worst few days in wildfire history for Washington state.″
“We’ve had this trauma all over Washington,” Inslee said, according to KHQ-TV. “But this is the place where the whole heart of the town was torn out.”
Malden is a farm town set among wheat fields about 35 miles south of Spokane, Washington.
Malden Mayor Chris Ferrell said residents only had minutes to get out of town before the wind-driven flames moved in on Monday. No one was killed or seriously injured.
Inslee said the state is already responding to the loss in Malden, which had around 200 residents, and nearby Pine City, which was even smaller.
The Democratic governor has declared a state of emergency to free up cash assistance for families in need. Crews have started work to restore utilities.
But more than 80% of the homes in Malden were destroyed by the flames.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The staggering scale of California’s wildfires in 2020 continues to grow.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says as of Thursday wildfires have scorched nearly 4,844 square miles (12,545 square kilometers) so far this year.
Six of the top 20 largest fires in state history have occurred this year as well.
California is now almost entirely free of Red Flag warnings for critical fire weather, but 14,000 firefighters remain on the lines of 29 major wildfires.
SALEM, Ore. — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said more than 900,000 acres have burned across the state in the last several days – nearly double the amount of land that usually burns in a typical year.
At a news conference Thursday, she said there have been fatalities but the exact number is not yet known. There have been at least three reported fire deaths in the state.
The governor also said up to 40,000 people had to evacuate because of encroaching flames.
“We have never seen this amount of uncontained fire across the state,” Brown said.
The windy, hot conditions will likely continue through Thursday, she said, continuing to hamper firefighting efforts. Brown said she had requested firefighting help from other states and the federal government.
OROVILLE, Calif. — California authorities say a wildfire that roared through foothills of the northern Sierra Nevada this week has destroyed or damaged about 2,000 structures, including homes and other buildings.
The damage estimate Thursday follows two days of powerful winds that sent an 8-mile-wide (12.8-kilometer) front of the North Complex fire bearing down on northeastern Butte County.
Cal Fire says there was major damage to communities including Berry Creek and Feather Falls.
Winds have moderated but authorities say more than 22,000 structures are still threatened, including the city of Oroville.
The improved weather is allowing more aggressive firefighting but heavy smoke is hampering use of aircraft.
WILLOWS, Calif. — A wildfire burning since last month in Northern California is now the state’s largest on record.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says the August Complex has scorched more than 736 square miles (1,906 square kilometers), centered in vast wilderness about 130 miles (209 kilometers) north of San Francisco.
The blaze originated as 37 separate fires in the Mendocino National Forest on Aug. 17, when California was hit by thousands of lightning strikes.
Many of the fires merged and others have since been added, and the complex now covers parts of Glenn, Mendocino, Lake, Tehama and Trinity counties. It has destroyed 26 structures as it consumes chaparral, timber and tall grass.
The state’s second-largest fire is now the Mendocino Complex, which burned more than 717 square miles (1,857 square kilometers) in the same region in 2018.
CASPER, Wyo. — Park officials say a fire in Wyoming near Yellowstone National Park has grown to 5 square miles.
The national park said in a statement Wednesday that hard frosts at night have killed plants and trees, which will aid the fire’s growth.
The so-called Lone Star Fire started on Aug. 22. Officials say it is expected to be contained by Oct. 30.
Firefighters are cutting down trees and heavy vegetation in the area to protect power lines, historic buildings and communication equipment.
SPOKANE, Wash. — The parents of a 1-year-old boy who died in a northern Washington state wildfire remained in critical condition Thursday in a Seattle hospital.
Okanogan County Sheriff Tony Hawley said the boy died after his family was apparently overrun by flames while trying to flee the giant Cold Springs Fire this week.
It was the state’s first death of this wildfire season.
Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday that he and his wife were heartbroken to hear about the child’s death.
Hawly said the family from the Seattle suburb of Renton was discovered by searchers Wednesday morning along the banks of the Columbia River. He said all were badly burned and the child was dead.
Hawley said the parents Jacob Hyland, 31, and Jamie Hyland, 26, were flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for treatment of third-degree burns.
The hospital listed them in critical condition and in intensive care on Thursday. According to a GoFundMe page set up for the family, Jamie Hyland is pregnant.