Wind-driven wildfires are still raging up and down the West Coast, killing at least seven people and destroying thousands of homes as they raze entire communities, according to authorities.
With many areas impossible to reach, officials are warning that the death tolls in California, Oregon and Washington will likely rise.
Fifty infernos were ravaging those three states, as of Wednesday, according to statistics from the National Interagency Fire Center.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said five towns were “substantially destroyed” — including the cities of Talent and Phoenix in Jackson County.
Some 3,000 firefighters in Oregon were outnumbered by over two dozen wildfires.
Two deaths were confirmed in the state in the Santiam Canyon region, about 60 miles south of Portland. Another was recorded in the Ashland area.
“This could be the greatest loss of human lives and property due to wildfire in our state’s history,” Brown said at a press conference Wednesday.
Tens of thousands of residents across the state were ordered to evacuate, with fires burning in every region.
More than 14,000 firefighters were battling 28 large blazes in California into the night, with some 64,000 people under evacuation orders.
About a third of evacuees were in Butte County, north of Sacremento, where a wildfire has scorched more than 200,000 acres (300 square miles) since it erupted on Aug. 17.
Intense, dry winds have been a major factor in the fast-moving wildfires.
In the Golden State — where the flames cast an eerie orange glow across the skies near San Francisco — winds are calmer Thursday but dry conditions persist, CNN reported.
Thick, dense smoke that’s descended over parts of the state will drop normally high temperatures, forecasters said.
“Don’t be surprised by high-temperature forecast bursts in this regime,” the National Weather Service in Hanford said.
Three unidentified people died in Northern California from a fire sparked by lightning. All of the state’s 18 national forests are closed.
In Washington, smoke-eaters were battling blazes on both sides of the Cascade Mountains, and record-high temperatures were expected in the state Thursday, the Seattle Times reported.
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