Images from the ravaged areas are perfectly apocalyptic, with scorched trees and telephone poles poking out from smoky gray, ashen landscapes. Buildings are reduced to piles of bricks, concrete and metal. Cars sit in driveways and along roadsides, blackened and gutted.
Major fires spanning several states have burned 4.6 million acres, national fire officials say. That’s an area roughly equivalent to Connecticut and Rhode Island combined.
While the 94 major blazes are burning mostly in rural and forested areas, major cities along the West Coast — Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, Oregon, among them — are also feeling the impact.
“I currently don’t have my own home right now so I didn’t want to be stuck outdoors all day, and I have asthma. I could start to feel like my breathing was getting a little tight so I decided to come over here,” said Teddie Moorehead, who has been homeless since June and sought refuge at the Dimond Branch Library.
Of the people killed since some of the fires broke out in mid-August, 22 have been in California, many in recent days. Ten people have been killed in Oregon, and a child was killed in Washington state.
The majority of the fires are in California (25), Washington (16), Oregon (13) and Idaho (10), though blazes have also emerged in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, the National Interagency Fire Center said Sunday morning.
“More than 30,000 firefighters and support personnel are assigned to incidents across the country,” the center said Sunday.
‘It’s all gone’
The Holiday Farm Fire east of Eugene, Oregon, which has torched more than 160,000 acres in the Willamette National Forest — an area slightly larger than the city of Chicago — is growing rapidly. It spread 5,000 acres Friday alone, officials say.
“We didn’t know what to grab. We didn’t pack. Who knows what to do when you’re going through this?” she said.
Authorities have shut down the main road into the town of 1,200 situated on the picturesque McKenzie River. Only residents who need to retrieve their pets or emergency medications are allowed past the roadblocks, the station reported.
Garner could hear the sadness in her friend’s voice when she reported that Garner’s dream home was no more, KOMO reported. Wearing donated clothes, Garner explained she had lost everything.
“It’s all gone, and it looks like a war zone hit it,” she said.
Three California fires reach historic proportions
“That’s what I can predict right now,” he told the station. “I’ve got two more weeks to go to test, and I’m not sure that I’m even going to pick some of mine. I may just take my losses and go home.”
Little rain, high temperatures and strong winds helped fuel the flames, and it’s unclear how long it will take to get them under control.
Angeles National Forest Fire Chief Robert Garcia’s department is fighting fires with 500 personnel, when it usually has 1,000 to 1,500, he said Saturday. Some firefighters are working more than 24 hours in a shift, he said. The Bobcat Fire northeast of Los Angeles is tearing through the mountainous national forest.
More than 4,100 structures have been destroyed since August 15, Cal Fire said Sunday, adding that 16,750 firefighters are battling fires statewide. As the massive fires rage, more are popping up.
“Firefighters across the state responded to 36 new wildfires yesterday, and all were contained quickly,” the agency said.
Fires in the state have burned more than 3.3 million acres this year, with the August Complex Fire burning in the Mendocino National Forest accounting for more than a quarter of the sum. The blaze, the largest in state history, is only 28% contained, according to Cal Fire.
“I cried. I cried for long time,” owner Mitch Dorghalli told the station. “The worst day in my life when I heard that news.”
Gusty winds and low humidity in Northern California on Sunday may exacerbate already dangerous conditions, Cal Fire said.
‘We saw the perfect storm’
At least eight of Oregon’s wildfires are expected to burn “until the winter’s rains fall,” said state Department of Forestry Fire Chief Doug Grafe.
“Our homes are absolutely destroyed. I’ve seen a few videos and photos and my lovely little house that we remodeled 12 years ago in this beautiful canyon area is absolutely flattened. It looks as though a bomb went off,” resident Elizabeth Smith told the station.
The Idanha-Detroit Rural Fire Protection District lost one of its fire engines and its office in the blaze, prompting the Aurora Fire District, about a three-hour drive northwest, to donate one of its own rigs to the hard-hit town
Dozens of people are missing, mostly across Jackson, Lane and Marion counties in western Oregon, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said.
Typically, fires consume about 500,000 acres a year in the state, but “this week alone, we burned over a million acres of beautiful Oregon,” she said.
“We saw the perfect fire storm. We saw incredible winds. We saw very cold, hot temperatures and, of course, we have a landscape that has seen 30 years of drought,” Brown said.
The state is preparing for a “mass fatality incident” based on how many structures are charred, Oregon Emergency Management Director Andrew Phelps said Friday.
80% of buildings in Washington town destroyed
The family was visiting their property west of Spokane and evacuated when the wildfire encroached. They abandoned their vehicle and fled to a river, CNN affiliate KCRA reported. The couple was rescued, but their son did not make it.
Another child was killed in the Cold Springs Fire in Omak, near the Canadian border, officials said.
In Seattle, the Woodland Park Zoo said Sunday it is temporarily closing its doors because of the air quality, though a team will remain at the facility to monitor the animals for “respiratory compromise,” it said.
CNN’s Jason Hanna, Christina Maxouris, Chuck Johnston, Amanda Jackson and Artemis Moshtaghian contributed to this report.