Death toll from Western wildfires reaches 33

  • A man stops on his bike along the Willamette River as smoke from wildfires partially obscures the Tilikum Crossing Bridge, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/John Locher) John Locher

  • A fire engine from the Idanha-Detroit Rural Fire Protection District sits on Detroit Avenue Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in Detroit, Ore. The engine was destroyed on Wednesday when the Lionshead Fire over-ran the resort community of Detroit, Ore., merging with the Beachie Creek Fire. Only the post office and a market survived the fire in the town's business district. (Mark Ylen/Albany Democrat-Herald via AP) Mark Ylen

  • George Coble carries a bucket of water to put out a tree still smoldering on his property destroyed by a wildfire Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, in Mill City, Ore. (AP Photo/John Locher) John Locher

  • Oregon Governor Kate Brown toured the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem, Ore., Saturday afternoon, Sept. 12, 2020, where she spoke with volunteers and evacuees. Brown also toured the animal facility where evacuated animals are being kept. Fires along Oregon's Cascade Range grew Saturday, but at a slower rate than earlier in the week. (Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian via AP, Pool) Beth Nakamura

  • An injured cat named Prince is being treated for third degree burns on his paws, stomach and face by technician assistant Kaity Kelsey, left, and Vet assistant Kayla Weisz, right, both from Medford, Ore., at the Southern Oregon Veterinary Specialty Center (SOVSC), which is a 24/7 hospital dealing with rescued animals from the wildfires devastating the region on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, in Central Point, Ore. (AP Photo/Paula Bronstein) Paula Bronstein

  • George Coble walks through what remains of a home on his property destroyed by a wildfire Saturday, in Mill City, Ore. AP PHOTO

  • George Coble douses a still smoldering tree at his property destroyed by a wildfire Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, in Mill City, Ore. (AP Photo/John Locher) John Locher

  • A person rides a bike along the Willamette River as smoke from wildfires partially obscures the Tilikum Crossing Bridge, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/John Locher) John Locher

  • Smoke from wildfires fills the sky over Pasadena, Calif., in this view looking east down Colorado Boulevard on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. The air was categorized as unhealthy by the South Coast Air Quality Management District. The National Weather Service said there were widespread smoke layers across the region. (AP Photo/John Antczak) John Antczak

  • Downtown Los Angeles is seen through the smoke from the Bobcat and the El Dorado fires, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. (Keith Birmingham/The Orange County Register via AP) Keith Birmingham

  • Cat food and water are seen as residents try to find lost pets who went missing during wildfires in Talent, Ore., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, as destructive wildfires devastate the region. (AP Photo/Paula Bronstein) Paula Bronstein

  • Lexi Sovllios from Talent, Ore., holds her dogs as she looks at the ruins of her burned house in Talent on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, as destructive wildfires devastate the region. (AP Photo/Paula Bronstein) Paula Bronstein

  • Jackson County District 5 firefighter Captain Aaron Bustard works on a smoldering fire in a burned neighborhood in Talent, Ore., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, as destructive wildfires devastate the region. (AP Photo/Paula Bronstein) Paula Bronstein

  • Ellie Owens, 8, from Grants Pass, Ore., looks at fire damage Friday, as destructive wildfires devastate the region in Talent, Ore. AP PHOTO

  • A burned residence is seen as destructive wildfires devastate the region on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in Talent, Ore. (AP Photo/Paula Bronstein) Paula Bronstein

  • Jackson County District 5 firefighter Captain Aaron Bustard, right, and Andy Buckingham work on a smoldering fire in a burned neighborhood as destructive wildfires devastate the region on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in Talent, Ore. (AP Photo/Paula Bronstein) Paula Bronstein

  • Firefighters monitor a controlled burn along Nacimiento-Fergusson Road to help contain the Dolan Fire near Big Sur, Calif., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Nic Coury) Nic Coury

  • Firefighters light a controlled burn along Nacimiento-Fergusson Road to help contain the Dolan Fire near Big Sur, Calif., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Nic Coury) Nic Coury

  • Smoke fills the area around the Oak Park Motel Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in Gates, Ore. The motel, owned by Ron and Belinda Evans, was one of several business destroyed by the Beachie Creek Fire. (Mark Ylen/Albany Democrat-Herald via AP) Mark Ylen

  • Smoke fills the air in the area of Detroit, Ore., on the main street of Detroit Avenue Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Tuesday in this area stood a vacant hardware store, city hall, fire department and sheriff's substation. On Wednesday fire swept down a canyon destroying the town. (Mark Ylen/Albany Democrat-Herald via AP) Mark Ylen

  • A trike that was in a small park along Detroit Avenue still stands near the Lake Detroit Market, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in Detroit, Ore. Smoke that poses a health hazard to millions is blanketing the West Coast as firefighters battle deadly wildfires that obliterated some towns and created tens of thousands of refugees. (Mark Ylen/Albany Democrat-Herald via AP) Mark Ylen

  • Only the sign remains in front of the Detroit Community Church Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in Detroit, Ore. The church along with the majority of businesses and homes in the resort community of Detroit, were destroyed when the Lionshead Fire swept through the community on Wednesday. (Mark Ylen/Albany Democrat-Herald via AP) Mark Ylen

  • Oregon Governor Kate Brown toured the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem, Ore., Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, where she spoke with volunteers and evacuees. Brown also toured the animal facility where evacuated animals are being kept. Fires along Oregon's Cascade Range grew Saturday, but at a slower rate than earlier in the week, when strong easterly winds pushed two large fires, the Beachie Creek Fire and the Riverside Fire, toward each other and the state's major population centers,... Beth Nakamura

  • Brenda Pearson, left, Marion County's Emergency Management field branch manager, greets Oregon Governor Kate Brown, second right, before touring her through sections of the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem, Ore., Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, where she spoke with volunteers and evacuees of the wildfires. Brown also met privately with county commissioners and other officials. In Oregon alone, more than 40,000 people have been evacuated and about 500,000 are in different levels of evacuation... Beth Nakamura

  • Erik Tucker carries a bucket of water to put out hot spots in an area around his home burned by the Beachie Creek Fire, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, in Lyons, Ore. Tucker lost a shed but his home was intact. (AP Photo/John Locher) John Locher

  • Erik Tucker pours water on a smoldering stump in an area around his home burned by the Beachie Creek Fire, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, in Lyons, Ore. Tucker lost a shed but his home was intact. (AP Photo/John Locher) John Locher

  • A sign advises to social distance at a marina building on Detroit Lake burned by the Beachie Creek Fire, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, in Detroit, Ore. (AP Photo/John Locher) John Locher

  • Boats are partially obscured by smoke from a wildfire at a marina on Detroit Lake burned by the Beachie Creek Fire, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, in Detroit, Ore. (AP Photo/John Locher) John Locher

  • An injured cat named Prince is being treated for third degree burns on his paws, stomach and face by technician assistant Kaity Kelsey, left, and Vet assistant Kayla Weisz, right, both from Medford at the Southern Oregon Veterinary Specialty Center (SOVSC) which is a 24/7 hospital dealing with rescued animals from the destructive wildfires devastating the region on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020 in Central Point, Ore. (AP Photo/Paula Bronstein) Paula Bronstein

  • A burned cat temporarily named Chestnut is seen recovering from her injuries at the Southern Oregon Veterinary Specialty Center (SOVSC) which is a 24/7 hospital dealing with rescued animals from the destructive wildfires devastating the region on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020 in Central Point, Ore. (AP Photo/Paula Bronstein) Paula Bronstein

  • An injured 8 week old kitten with facial burns is being treated at the Southern Oregon Veterinary Specialty Center (SOVSC) which is a 24/7 hospital dealing with rescued animals from the destructive wildfires devastating the region on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020 in Central Point, Ore. (AP Photo/Paula Bronstein) Paula Bronstein

Published: 9/13/2020 7:03:24 PM

BEAVERCREEK, Ore. — Nearly all the dozens of people reported missing after a devastating blaze in southern Oregon have been accounted for, authorities said over the weekend as crews battled wildfires that have killed at least 33 from California to Washington state.

The flames up and down the West Coast have destroyed neighborhoods, leaving nothing but charred rubble and burned-out cars, forced tens of thousands to flee and cast a shroud of smoke that has given Seattle, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, some of the worst air quality in the world.

The smoke filled the air with an acrid metallic smell like pennies and spread to nearby states. While making it difficult to breathe, it helped firefighters by blocking the sun and turning the weather cooler as they tried to get a handle on the blazes, which were slowing in some places.

But warnings of low moisture and strong winds that could fan the flames added urgency to the battle. The so-called red flag warnings stretched from hard-hit southern Oregon to Northern California and extended through Monday evening.

Lexi Soulios, her husband and son were afraid they would have to evacuate for a second time because of the weather. They left their small southern Oregon town of Talent last week when they saw a “big, huge flow of dark smoke coming up,” then went past roadblocks Friday to pick through the charred ruins of their home.

While they are staying farther south in Ashland, known for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, she said by text message that the forecast may mean they could be on the move again.

“So this isn’t over yet but we just had the car checked so we feel prepared,” Lexi Soulios wrote.

Authorities last week reported as many as 50 people could be missing after a wildfire in the Ashland area. But the Jackson County sheriff’s office said late Saturday that four people had died in the blaze and that the number of missing was down to one.

At least 10 people have been killed in the past week throughout Oregon. Officials have said more people are missing from other fires, and the number of fatalities is likely to rise, though they have not said how high the toll could go as they search. In California, 22 people have died, and one in Washington state. Thousands of homes and other buildings have burned.

Barbara Rose Bettison, 25, left her farm among the trees and fields of Eagle Creek, outside Portland, when a sheriff’s deputy knocked on her door Tuesday. They drove away on a road that became an ominous dividing line, with blue skies on one side and the other filled with black and brown smoke.

She took shelter at an Elks Lodge near Portland, where evacuees wrapped themselves in blankets and set up tents out back.

“It’s terrifying. We’ve never had any form of natural disaster,” she said.

Bettison, a UPS driver, was able to get out with her chickens, rabbits and cats. She hasn’t been back, but neighbors said it is so smoky they can’t see their hands in front of their faces.

“I’m hoping there has not been too much damage because it would break my heart,” she said.

Farther south in the town of Talent, Dave Monroe came to his burned home, partially hoping he’d find his three cats.

“We thought we’d get out of this summer with no fires,” he said. “There is something going on, that’s for sure, man. Every summer we’re burning up.”

Numerous studies in recent years have linked bigger wildfires in the U.S. to global warming from the burning of coal, oil and gas.

The Democratic governors of all three states say the fires are a consequence of climate change, taking aim at President Donald Trump ahead of his visit Monday to California for a fire briefing.

“It is maddening right now that when we have this cosmic challenge to our communities, with the entire West Coast of the United States on fire, to have a president to deny that these are not just wildfires, these are climate fires,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

At a rally in Nevada, Trump blamed inadequate forest management, which White House adviser Peter Navarro echoed on CNN’s “State of the Union,” saying that for many years in California, “particularly because of budget cutbacks, there was no inclination to manage our forests.”

Firefighter Steve McAdoo has run from one blaze to another in Oregon for six days, seeing buildings burn and trees light up like candles.

“We lost track of time because you can’t see the sun and you’ve been up for so many days,” he said. “Forty-eight to 72 hours nonstop, you feel like you’re in a dream.”

As he and his team battled the blazes, McAdoo worried about his wife and daughter at home just miles away. They evacuated safely, but at times he could communicate with them only in one-word text messages: “busy.”

McAdoo and other firefighters got their first real break Sunday to take showers, shave and check their equipment. And though it’s a faint shadow of its usual self, he can finally see the sun.

“It’s nice today to at least see the dot in the sky,” he said.

Meanwhile, Oregon’s fire marshal, who resigned after being placed on leave amid a personnel investigation, says he was trying to help a colleague and “didn’t do anything wrong.”

Jim Walker told TV news station KOIN in Portland that state police leaders put him on leave after he tried to help a co-worker whose family was missing in a fire zone, saying his superiors decided he had overstepped his authority.




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