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More than 85 wildfires are scorching​ the US West Coast in 'once-in-a-generation event'


Hundreds of thousands of acres have been burned

Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images

More than 85 wildfires are burning through hundreds of thousands of acres up and down the West Coast in California, Oregon, and Washington in what many are calling an unprecedented event, CNN reported early Wednesday.

What are the details?

"We have fires burning in the north part of the state all the way down to the Mexican border, about 800 miles between the furthest distant fires, so we're stretched across the landscape," Cal Fire Chief Thom Porter said of the 25 fires currently burning in California.

Gusty wind conditions and high temperatures in the state are further exacerbating the situation. Authorities warned that the winds could soon drive the fires already burning into "new ferocity."

A similar situation is playing out in Oregon, as thousands of residents have been placed under evacuation orders as fast-moving fires sweep through the state, already scorching 230,000 acres.

On Tuesday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) issued an emergency declaration in hopes of getting more resources to local responders to battle the fires.

During a news conference, Brown called the situation "unprecedented" and a "once-in-a-generation event."

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) also referred to the situation as "unprecedented." He told reporters that on Monday alone, 330,000 acres had burned in Washington state, which is more than had burned in the state's past 12 fire seasons.

The magnitude of the devastation was especially felt in the small farming town of Maiden, where 80% of the town's buildings were destroyed by a fire.

Inslee also pressed the issue of unnecessary human contribution in causing the fires.

"I just can't reiterate [it enough], we think almost all of these fires were human-caused, in some dimension," the governor said. "If you can avoid being outside for anything that would even cause a spark, I hope people can avoid those conditions."

One fire in California made headlines on Monday after it was reported that the blaze — which ended up scorching 7,300 acres — was the result of a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device used during a gender reveal party.

Anything else?

Just how widespread the problem is can be seen in a screenshot of the National Weather Service's homepage.

As of Wednesday morning, huge chunks of the country's West Coast, extending from the Canadian border in the north to the Mexican border in the south, were under "red flag warnings" (shown below in magenta), indicating critical fire conditions.

Image Source: National Weather Service screenshot

Red flag warnings mean that "critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now, or will shortly."

In the warning, the NWS notes that "a combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior."

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