Home / US / Oregon braces for a “mass fatal accident” as wildfires rage in western states

Oregon braces for a “mass fatal accident” as wildfires rage in western states

At least 19 people died this week in Oregon, Washington and California the fires continue to rage in the western states. Dozens are still missing in Oregon, where officials are preparing for a “mass fatal accident.”

“We know we are dealing with fire-related deaths and are preparing for a mass fatal accident based on what we know and the number of structures lost,” said Andrew Phelps, director of the State Office for Management of emergencies. “The long-term recovery will last for years.”

More than half a million people ̵

1; 12% of the state’s population – have done so they fled from their homes in Oregon and mass evacuations are underway throughout the region. Oregon Governor Kate Brown said the fires burned more than 1 million acres.

“I know these have been difficult days, many Oregonians are suffering right now, whether they are displaced themselves or worried about their families and communities as they watched our beautiful state burn,” Brown said in a briefing on Friday. “We are doing everything possible to fight these fires.”

The monstrous fires are moving so fast that they are engulfing the firefighters. Fires are also creating suffocating smoke from Los Angeles to Seattle. Portland and San Francisco now have the worst air quality in the world, and authorities are urging people to stay indoors.

In Berry Creek, California, what used to be a lakeside community filled with homes is now incinerated. A fire left at least 10 victims, including that of 16-year-old Josiah Williams, who was found near his home last night. California’s death toll was originally 12, but has since been reduced to 11.

Ashland Oregon fire
This aerial view shows search and rescue teams in Ashland, Oregon on September 11, 2020.

David Ryder / Getty

In Washington, Jamie and Jake Hyland lost their one-year-old son, Uriel, and unborn child while trying to escape the flames. The couple also suffered severe burns.

“In my worst dreams, I couldn’t imagine what my sister and brother-in-law had to go through and do whatever it takes to fight for their lives and protect their baby,” said Jamie Hyland’s sister Dawnmarie Baxter CBS News. “And so to lose him and his baby, there are no words and nothing will ever do it right.”

There is some hopeful news: calm winds are forecast for this weekend, and the Pacific Northwest could see some much needed rain next week.

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