The Most Apocalyptic Photos From the West Coast Fires This Week

A Butte County firefighter douses flames at the Bear Fire in Oroville, California on September 9, 2020.
A Butte County firefighter douses flames at the Bear Fire in Oroville, California on September 9, 2020.
Photo: Josh Edelson / AFP (Getty Images)

The West Coast is burning, and it’s still not under control. There are now three states—California, Washington state and Oregon—battling raging wildfires, which have left a trail of destruction in their wake and, in some cases, have literally changed the color of the sky.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to evacuate in these areas, and there have been at least 15 deaths so far, with that number unfortunately expected to rise in the coming days. The fires are being fueled by factors such as record-breaking heat waves, drought and, of course, climate change. Some West Coast leaders, in fact, have suggested that we shouldn’t use the term “wildfires” to describe the crises, but rather “climate fires.”

Sometimes you have to see things to believe them. That said, in case you needed another reason to take climate change seriously, here it is.

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1 Million Acres

1 Million Acres

Volunteer firefighter Jacob Ruthrock puts out embers from a fire in Gates, Oregon, on September 10, 2020
Volunteer firefighter Jacob Ruthrock puts out embers from a fire in Gates, Oregon, on September 10, 2020
Photo: Kathryn Elsesser / AFP (Getty Images)

In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown said that wildfires in the state had consumed more than 1 million acres of land, according to the New York Times. Brown also revealed that as a result, the state had the worst air quality in the world.

“Almost anywhere in the state you can feel this right now,” she said.

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10% of Oregon Has Been Ordered to Evacuate

10% of Oregon Has Been Ordered to Evacuate

A charred vehicle is seen in the parking lot of the burned Oak Park Motel after the passage of the Santiam Fire in Gates, Oregon on September 10, 2020.
A charred vehicle is seen in the parking lot of the burned Oak Park Motel after the passage of the Santiam Fire in Gates, Oregon on September 10, 2020.
Photo: Kathryn Elsesser / AFP (Getty Images)

Roughly 10% of Oregon’s population has been told to evacuate because of the wildfires. In a news conference Friday, Gov. Brown said that dozens of people were unaccounted for. State emergency officials, per CNN, said that they were preparing for a “mass fatality incident.”

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Asking for Help Around the Country

Asking for Help Around the Country

In this aerial view from a drone, damaged homes are seen in a mobile home park that was destroyed by wildfires on September 11, 2020 in Ashland, Oregon.
In this aerial view from a drone, damaged homes are seen in a mobile home park that was destroyed by wildfires on September 11, 2020 in Ashland, Oregon.
Photo: David Ryder (Getty Images)

On Thursday, Andrew Phelps, director of the Oregon Office for Emergency Management, said that the intense number of fires had “tapped out” the state’s resources and that it was reaching out to other emergency management agencies across the country for help. Phelps praised Oregon’s firefighters and emergency management community in a statement.

“Their efforts, stamina and response are nothing short of heroic,” he said.

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Newsom Criticizes Trump’s Environmental Policies

Newsom Criticizes Trump’s Environmental Policies

Firefighters monitor the advance of the Bobcat Fire in the Angeles National Forest on September 10, 2020 north of Monrovia, California.
Firefighters monitor the advance of the Bobcat Fire in the Angeles National Forest on September 10, 2020 north of Monrovia, California.
Photo: David McNew (Getty Images)

Meanwhile, in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom pledged to do more to fight climate change and criticized the Trump administration for enacting policies that reduce environmental protections, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“People that want to roll back vehicle emission standards so you could spend more money at the pump and produce more greenhouse gas emissions, to create more of what you see around me — it’s beyond the pale of comprehension,” Newsom said. “We’re fighting against that and will prevail as long as more people come to this cause.”

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“This Is a Climate Damn Emergency.”

“This Is a Climate Damn Emergency.”

A boat motors by as the Bidwell Bar Bridge is surrounded by fire in Lake Oroville during the Bear Fire in Oroville, California on September 9, 2020.
A boat motors by as the Bidwell Bar Bridge is surrounded by fire in Lake Oroville during the Bear Fire in Oroville, California on September 9, 2020.
Photo: Josh Edelson / AFP (Getty Images)

Newsom warned that California would not be alone in its woes, and that states across the country could begin to see similar crises. He also stated that he had spoken to President Donald Trump about the fires and said that Trump had been “proactive” about providing aid to California.

“This is a climate damn emergency,” the California governor said. “This is real and it’s happening.”

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Not “Wildfires,” but “Climate Fires.”

Not “Wildfires,” but “Climate Fires.”

Firefighters Kyle Parker (L), Battalion Chief Bob Horst (C) and Sam Hochstatter from the Grant County Fire Department work to secure the fire line on the Cold Springs Fire on September 10, 2020 in Omak, Washington.
Firefighters Kyle Parker (L), Battalion Chief Bob Horst (C) and Sam Hochstatter from the Grant County Fire Department work to secure the fire line on the Cold Springs Fire on September 10, 2020 in Omak, Washington.
Photo: Karen Ducey (Getty Images)

In Washington state, Gov. Jay Inslee stated that the wildfires decimating the West Coast should be called “climate fires.” About 890 square miles of land burned in Washington in the past five days, Inslee said, per the AP. The crisis is one of the state’s worst incidents on record.

“This is not an act of God,” Inslee said. “This has happened because we have changed the climate of the state of Washington in dramatic ways.”

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Seattle’s Air Is Hazardous

Seattle’s Air Is Hazardous

A woman sits on a boat at Madison Park Beach as smoke from wildfires on the West Coast fills the air on September 11, 2020 in Seattle, Washington.
A woman sits on a boat at Madison Park Beach as smoke from wildfires on the West Coast fills the air on September 11, 2020 in Seattle, Washington.
Photo: Lindsey Wasson (Getty Images)

One example of the effects of Washington’s wildfires could be seen in Seattle. In recent days, the state’s Department of Ecology declared that the air in Seattle was “hazardous.” This classification has far-reaching consequences. It means, for instance, that people with heart and lung disease should consider leaving the area. In addition, the Seattle Times reported that everyone should stay indoors.

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A Lingering Challenge

A Lingering Challenge

Wildland firefighters take a break at the Incident Command Post for the Cold Springs Fire on September 9, 2020 in Omak, Washington.
Wildland firefighters take a break at the Incident Command Post for the Cold Springs Fire on September 9, 2020 in Omak, Washington.
Photo: Karen Ducey (Getty Images)

Finally, it’s important not to forget the first responders that are on the front lines fighting this crisis, which are facing an important challenge: lack of personnel. There are simply not enough firefighters. Just a month ago, firefighters from Oregon and Washington rushed to help contain the fires in Northern California, the New York Times reported. Now, however, they have their own fires to contain.

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DISCUSSION