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Oregon fires: Half a million people forced to flee their homes from dozens of infernos

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 11/09/2020 Sean Morrison

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More than half a million people in the US state of Oregon have been forced to flee their homes from deadly wildfires that are raging across the Pacific Northwest , authorities have said.

Hot and dry winds are fanning the flames which are feeding on drought-sapped vegetation, with California, Oregon and Washington worst affected.

At least 10 people have died and 16 are missing as a Northern California wildfire continued to wreak havoc.

In California, Butte County sheriff's deputies and detectives found seven bodies on Thursday, a day after three other victims were discovered.

More bodies could be found as crews manage to make their way into devastated areas.

The weeks-old fire was about 50 per cent contained when winds thrashed it into explosive growth on Tuesday, driving it through rugged Sierra Nevada foothills.

More than 2,000 homes and other buildings had burned in the lightning-sparked collection of fires now known as the North Complex burning about 125 miles northeast of San Francisco.

Forecasters said there was some good news on the weather front, as winds were expected to remain lighter this week in the fire area, while dense smoke actually knocked down the temperature slightly and was expected to kept the humidity somewhat higher.

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The North Complex fire is the 10th largest on record and growing as firefighters try to prevent it from advancing towards the town of Paradise, where the most destructive fire in state history two years ago killed 85 people and destroyed 19,000 buildings.

Some 14,000 firefighters continued to try to combat 29 major wildfires from the Oregon border to just north of Mexico, though California was almost entirely free of critical fire weather warnings after days of hot, dry conditions and the threat of strong winds.

Smoke blew into vineyards in wine country north of San Francisco, and rose above scenic Big Sur on the Central Coast and in the foothills and mountains of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and San Diego counties in the southern part of the state.

Numerous fires continued to burn in Washington and Oregon and dense smoke blanketed much of the West Coast on Thursday morning, darkening skies with hazardous air pollution.

A fire raging along the Oregon border destroyed 150 homes near the community of Happy Camp and one person was confirmed dead, the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office said.

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