An unprecedented fire season is wreaking havoc across the Western US, with nearly 100 major wildfires tearing across multiple states and air quality plummeting. At least 24 people have died, with dozens more missing and over 3,000 homes, and entire neighborhoods, destroyed since the season began. By Friday in Oregon, which has declared a state of emergency, half a million people were under evacuation orders as two fires threatened to merge and continue rapidly advancing toward Salem and Portland’s suburbs. Oregon fires have burned more than 1 million acres, said the state’s governor, Kate Brown. She called the blazes a “once-in-a-generation event.”
California’s wildfires, driven by extreme blazes in August and September, have already burned more acres than any year on record. As of Thursday, there are blazes burning in at least 10 western states, according to the interagency incident information system.