Dramatic aerial footage shows massive destruction wreaked by wildfires in California, Oregon and Washington which have killed at least seven people including a 12-year-old boy and his grandmother, online media reports said.
Ninety major fires across 13 western states have already burned more than 3.4 million acres - the size of Connecticut - and are still spreading in high winds amid fears that the number of casualties will rise. Photos of the eerie scene, particularly of a San Francisco skyline fit for a dystopian science fiction film, spread quickly on social media.
Numerous wildfires burned in Oregon's forested valleys and along the coast. Entire communities have been razed with five towns 'substantially destroyed' and widespread evacuations are taking place under apocalyptic orange skies.
Only 'smouldering ruins' remained of large parts of the town of Talent; smoke obscured the sun and ash fell from the sky. ‘‘This could be the greatest loss of human lives and property due to wildfire in our state's history,’’ Oregon Governor Kate Brown told a press conference. Farther north, flames devoured buildings and huge tracts of land in Washington State, including more than 480,000 acres of forest.
Climate scientists blame global warming for extreme wet and dry seasons in the West that have caused grasses and scrub to flourish and then dry out, leaving abundant fuel for fires. High-velocity winds had added to the blaze. If literal fire skies don't wake us up to climate change, then nothing will, tweeted a YouTube influencer.
Fires erupted along Interstate 5 in Oregon, hitting towns and forcing a shutdown of the main freeway along the West Coast. US Highway 101, the main coastal highway running through California, Oregon and Washington, was also impacted. Traffic snarled as people tried to drive south.
In Talent, a mobile home park with more than 50 homes was turned into an empty lot except for one lone trailer.