On the West Coast, leaders are calling for “all the help we can get.”
Wildfires on the West Coast became a completely inevitable crisis across the country on Tuesday, with at least 27 people killed in three states, fires and evacuations starting in Idaho, milky smoke covering the skies over Michigan and Michigan. reaches as far as New York.
In the worst-hit states – with more than five million acres so far in Oregon, California and Washington state – authorities have been trying to adapt to a disaster with no clear end in sight, as conditions have exacerbated climate change.
The Bay Area, under a smoky blanket for four weeks, set another record for successive warnings of dangerous air. Oregon Police set up a mobile morgue as groups searched in cremated buildings for survivors and the dead. Alaska Airlines flight suspensions outside Portland, Ore., and Spokane, Wash., reporting “dense smoke and fog.” And the Kate Brown administration in Oregon called for a presidential declaration of disaster, saying late Monday, “To fight fires of this magnitude, we need all the help we can get.”
California Gavin Newsom met with President Trump Monday at McClellan Park near Sacramento, thanking him for federal assistance and agreeing that forest management could be better – noting also that only 3% of the land in California is state-controlled, compared to 57% federally controlled. The governors of all three states stressed that climate change had made the fires more dangerous, drying of forests with increasing heat and prepare them to burn, science that Monday the president refused.
“Firefighting rules are changing because our climate is changing,” said Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington. wrote in an open letter on Monday. “There is no firefighting plan on this planet that would do any good unless it even recognizes the role of climate change.”
Addressing Mr. Trump, he wrote: “I hope you had an enlightening journey to the West Coast, where your refusal to tackle climate change – and your active steps to allow even more carbon pollution – will accelerate catastrophic fires. today “
Firefighters continued to try to contain the dozens of fires on Tuesday morning. In California, the August band fire, which burned more than 750,000 acres northwest of Sacramento, was reduced to about 30 percent, and the Creek Fire northeast of Fresno, which burned more than 200,000 acres, contained about 16 percent.
In Oregon, tens of thousands of people were still on evacuation orders and the fire of Beachie Creek, east of Salem, grew to burn about 200,000 acres.
With dozens of fires burning on millions of acres in Oregon and California, meteorologists are watching how winds and humidity could affect their combat efforts. While strong winds are possible, forecasts indicate that areas with some of the most devastating fires will benefit from mild winds on Tuesday.
Almost three dozen fires have been burned more than 950,000 acres in Oregon. In California, the North Complex fire over 264,000 acres contained 39 percent, while the August complex fire affected 755,000 acres, containing only 30 percent.
On Tuesday, winds are expected to ease, but smoke and fog will continue to cover the skies over Northern California, the National Weather Service said. Temperatures will range between the low 70s to the mid 80s in the valley and the North Group fire area.
“There will not be much wind in this area of fire today,” said Jim Mathews, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “I do not think there would be unfavorable conditions.”
Humidity will be in teens by 20, he said.
“We need to see an improvement,” Mathews added. “More sun will be filtered through the smoke and this is due to the flow of the southwest flow that begins to stir the atmosphere. However, air quality is still unhealthy. “
In Oregon, a “red flag” warning of dangerous fire conditions remained in effect east of the waterfalls and there was little humidity in the air. But most of the largest wildfires in the state are burning west of the mountains, and firefighters battling them were expected to escape the higher winds.
“The strongest winds I have west of the Cascades are usually gusts of about 15 miles per hour today,” said Charles Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oregon.
But east of the waterfalls, there will be higher winds and lower humidity, making conditions “more dangerous than usual,” Mr Smith said. “If there are new fires, they will have a problem in their initial attack,” he added, referring to the fire department.
Idaho fights several fires, with one destroying about 70,000 acres.
In Idaho, hundreds of firefighters continue to fight more than a dozen fires burning in steep, dry forests and bushes.
The largest fire, the Woodhead Fire, rose to about 70,000 acres on Monday, forcing evacuations of campers and residents in the sparsely populated pasture patch and National Park near the Oregon border.
None of the state fires are comparable in size to the large fires that devastate the West Coast, but with stretched thin resources and forecasts for continuous dry weather, local fire teams are closely monitoring the fires.
Several counties in the state are smoking from coastal fires, prompting the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to issue warnings about unhealthy air for much of the state.
As Trump rejects science again, Biden calls it a “climate arson.”
With fires across the West, climate change became central to the White House race on Monday, with former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. calling President Trump a “climate burner” and the president saying “I do not think the science knows what is really going on.
One day a duel erupted over the sharp differences between the two candidates, an incumbent president who has long despised climate change as a farce and overturned environmental regulations and a challenger calling for an aggressive campaign to curb greenhouse gases blamed for increasingly extreme weather.
Mr. Trump flew to California after weeks of public silence over flames that forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes, destroyed communities and forests, burned millions of acres, engulfed the area in smoke and left at least 27 people dead. the dead. But even when confronted with the governor of California and other state officials, the president insisted that the crisis be attributed solely to mismanagement of forests and not to climate change.
Biden, for his part, attacked Mr. Trump’s climate record, arguing that inaction and the president’s refusal fueled disaster, citing not only the current West Coast emergency but floods in the Midwest and hurricanes. along the Gulf Coast. In an open-air speech at a museum in Wilmington, Del., The Democratic presidential candidate tried to paint a second term of Trump as a threat to the nation’s suburbs, thwarting an attack on him by the president.
“If we have four more years since Trump denied the climate, how many suburbs will be burned in fires?” Mr. Biden asked. “How many suburban neighborhoods will be flooded? How many suburbs will have been hit by super storms? If you give the White House a climate spark for four more years, why would anyone be surprised if we have more America on fire? “
The North Complex Fire broke through the tiny mountain community of Lake Madrone in California, shrinking the pine-covered shoreline, which was full of cottages and frequented by bears and otters, to bare black wood and ash.
The community had spent years clearing fires and removing forest debris to protect it from fires. But roars, high temperatures and a firestorm that hit nearly 20 miles in just a few days broke its defenses late last week, destroying about half of the 130 homes.
“We hoped we had done enough,” said Scott Owen, a lake dweller. “After watching this fire, I do not think you can do enough. This fire moved like no one had ever seen before. “
On Monday afternoon, Bate County Sheriff Cory Hona announced another fire victim, who killed at least 15 people. He said the family members of some of those who died told lawmakers that the men had packed their bags and planned to evacuate, but changed their minds based on misinformation that the fire was 50 per cent.
Mr. Owen’s entire neighborhood burned to the ground in the fire. A neighbor had just escaped, he said, and was sheltered from the flames in a stream. Neighbors were still trying to hold everyone accountable on Monday, hoping authorities would not look for debris with corpse dogs.
Although the flames have moved north, the inhabitants of Lake Madrone have not been able to return yet. Mr Owen, who has owned a lake house for decades, said he was not sure he would rebuild it.
“I think things have changed and we will have more fires,” he said. “It’s a record year – who knows where he’s going from here.”
The report was contributed by Peter Baker, Lisa Friedman, Christine Hauser, Thomas Kaplan, Dave Phillips and Alan Youhas.