Oregon was preparing for a “mass fatal event” Friday as dozens of wildfires continued to burn across the state.
“We know we are dealing with fire-related deaths and are preparing for a mass deadly event based on what we know and the number of lost facilities,” Andrew Phelps, director of state emergency management, told reporters during a fire report. briefing with Governor Kate Brown, according to Portland’s KION-TV.
AT LEAST 5 DEAD, DOZENS MISSING AS 36 WILD FIRES BURN THROUGH OREGON
At least eight deaths were reported in the state and Brown said dozens more people remained missing, including in Jackson County and Marion County east of Salem, the state capital. Oregon has not released an official death tally.
The two largest wildfires in the state threatened to converge as they approached the more populated part of the state, leading Portland to declare a state of emergency on Thursday.
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Improved weather helped land efforts after days of high wind, heat and low humidity.
“The wind dropped a bit for us yesterday,” said Stefan Myers of the state fire intelligence team.
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A suspect was also charged with two counts of arson for allegedly setting the Almeda fire in the southern part of the state. The suspect denied setting the fire.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.