US fires: seven dead, thousands evacuated

(Clovis) Historic-scale fires continued to ravage the west coast of the United States on Thursday, where they killed at least seven people including an infant and destroyed hundreds of homes, forcing thousands of residents fleeing the flames.

Javier TOVAR with Cyril JULIEN in Washington

France Media Agency

The fires spread from Washington State in the north, bordering Canada, to San Diego, in southern California, fueled by drought and high winds.

They killed at least seven people, but the authorities fear a much heavier toll. Three people have died in Butte County, Calif., Three in Oregon, and a one-year-old baby found by rescue teams from his severely burned parents in Washington state.

Residents of Estacada, a small rural town in Oregon about 50 miles southeast of Portland, were ordered to evacuate at noon Wednesday.

Jason Valean, 29 years old, left his house with his two big dogs and is waiting to find her mother, returned home to open the pen for her pigs, which will thus have a chance to escape the flames.

“The whole other side is on fire,” he told AFP, pointing to the orange smoke rising from the mountain.

Oregon is facing fires “unprecedented in the history” of the state, according to its governor, Kate Brown, who expected Wednesday “to many losses, in terms of buildings and lives human ”.

Further south, near Fresno, California, other residents also had to flee within minutes.

“I didn’t think we were going to be evacuated, it was done at the last minute,” Leanna Mikesler, a resident of the village of Meadow Lake threatened by the fire called Creek, told AFP Fire.

“We had to pack our bags, do our best and help our neighbors,” she added in front of an emergency accommodation center.

The fire burned 67 500 hectares, sowing desolation in its path: car wrecks, houses of which only the brick chimney remains …

About 200 buildings were destroyed, according to the firefighters who deployed nearly a thousand men to fight the flames in the Sierra National Forest, suffocating outbreaks with water or earth.

Faced with the fire, several thousand people were evacuated, operations made even more difficult by the coronavirus epidemic.

Do not abandon

In Fresno, the Red Cross requisitioned hundreds of hotel rooms to isolate evacuees and prevent the spread of COVID – 12.

“We placed (in the shelter) more than 600 people on Tuesday evening and the previous evening”, explained to AFP Cindy Huge, a spokesperson for the organization.

The evacuees are given three meals a day and water, she added. Maintaining physical distancing is an ongoing challenge.

Leanna Mikesler finds the situation “difficult”. “But we can’t really do otherwise,” she said. With your animals and the world around you, it is very difficult to avoid contact. ”

More than 200 00 0 hectares went up in smoke in Washington state, according to Governor Jay Inslee, who on Thursday denounced the catastrophic consequences of climate change.

“We will not give up on the future of this state in the face of climate change,” he said on Twitter. “I will think about these fires and their impacts on our populations when we make our next decisions to fight climate change,” he added.

In California, more than twenty fires are raging and this year the fire has consumed more than 09 00 0 km 2 8000 in the State, a record since this data is collected in 1987.

Near Los Angeles, the still out of control “Bobcat Fire” devastated more than 8000 hectares, according to firefighters.

Evacuation orders were also issued near San Diego, where more than 2020 burned in four days in the Valley Fire , according to local authorities.