What to Know About the Deadly Wildfires Ravaging the West Coast — and How You Can Help
At least seven people, including two children, have died as the fires have burned more than 2.5 million acres in California, plus 300,000 in Oregon and 480,000 in Washington
Hundreds of thousands of acres have been charred along the coast, and in California alone, 14,000 firefighters are battling 28 major blazes that have burned over 2.5 million acres, according to Cal Fire.
In Oregon, about 35 fires are raging across more than 300,000 acres, and in nearby Washington, 480,000 acres have been gobbled up, almost completely destroying small towns like Malden, according to The New York Times and CNN.
“This could be the greatest loss of human lives and property due to wildfire in our state’s history,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said, CNN reported. “We are not getting any relief from the weather conditions. Winds continue to feed these fires and push them into our towns and cities.”
He and his 71-year-old grandmother Peggy Mosso were reportedly killed in the Santiam Fire after it engulfed their home near Lyons, Oregon.
Meanwhile, in Omak, Washington, a 1-year-old boy died in the Cold Springs Fire while trying to escape alongside his parents, The Spokesman-Review reported.
Parents Jacob Hyland, 31, and Jamie Hyland, 26, were found by a search and rescue team along the banks of the Columba River with severe burns, and were airlifted to a hospital in Seattle in critical condition, according to the outlet.
“The death of a 1-year-old boy doesn’t even compare to when we reach our adulthood and we have choices to be places,” Okanogan County Sheriff Tony Hawley reportedly said. “To even be talking about the death of a 1-year-old is just devastating.”
A GoFundMe page for the family has so far raised more than $84,000.
The Almeda Fire in Oregon has also claimed at least one victim near the blaze’s origin in Ashland, Jackson County Sheriff Nathan Sickler said at a press conference.
“Based on the circumstances, there’s likely there could be additional [fatalities], but we won’t know that for some time,” he said. “This is an event that’s larger than anything I’ve been a part of with regards to the loss of property and the destruction to our community.”
At least three deaths have also been confirmed from the Bear Fire, which is part of the larger North Complex Fires, in California, The Mercury News reported.
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California Highway Patrol Office Ben Draper said one victim was “attempting to flee and it just didn’t work out.” They were reportedly found in the Berry Creek area late Wednesday.
Two additional victims were found together, according to Butte County Sheriff-Coroner Kory Honea.
As the blazes continued to burn, an apocalyptic, red and orange glow emerged in skies near the Bay Area, bringing with it ash that rained down on residents.
“It was surreal,” Sneha Patil told CNN. “It felt like I had woken up to the skies in Mars."
To help communities facing destructive wildfires in the Western U.S., consider donating to the following organizations:
• The American Red Cross allows donors to direct funds to support people impacted by the fires.
• GlobalGiving’s Wildfire Relief offers emergency funding to local efforts providing essentials to wildfire victims in need.
• GoFundMe’s California Wildfire Relief Fund aims to “support a range of needs” by issuing “grants to individuals, organizations and communities that have either been impacted themselves or are dedicated to helping."
• The California Fire Foundation “provides emotional and financial assistance to families of fallen firefighters, firefighters and the communities they protect."