San Francisco, 14 September 2020 (dpa/MIA) – At least 33 people have been killed by fires raging in California, Oregon and Washington since the start of a record-breaking wave of fires in mid-August, according to the latest figures.
Wildfires this year have burnt a staggering 1.3 million hectares in California and killed 22 people there since August 15, according to the state’s CalFire agency.
Another 10 people have died in Oregon and a child died in Washington.
While cooler weather conditions and calmer winds are helping authorities battle the blazes over the weekend, many of the fires in Oregon and California remain largely uncontained, forcing tens of thousands of evacuations and threatening thousands of homes.
The fires have burnt neighbourhoods to ashes, and destroyed 4,100 structures in California alone.
As authorities start to gain control of the wildfires, fears are growing that the death toll will rise, as dozens of people are still missing in Oregon.
The fire crisis has also become a political issue, with President Donald Trump and many Republicans blaming poor forest management – creating denser forests and bigger blazes – for the disaster.
Democrats and wildfire experts say forest management is a key factor but they also point to climate change that has created severe drought conditions and volatile weather.
“It’s both. It’s decades of mismanagement of our forests in this country and it is the failure to tackle climate change,” Oregon Governor Kate Brown said on Sunday on “Face the Nation,” a news programme.