More Than 20 Dead In US Wildfires

Thick orange plumes of smoke pollute the skies while the sun is still absent from the chaos.

More than 20 people are dead as wildfires ravaging parts of Oregon and California state continue to spread. Flames engulfed surrounding parts of Portland and dozens are missing.

The Hill reports at least 23 dead across Oregon and California in a disaster that has burned more than 2 million acres of land so far this year.

Graphic: Wildfires Today

According to NASA satellite imagery, the distribution of smoke in the early hours of the morning are being pushed out toward the Pacific ocean, though the majority remains above much of the western country.

READ: California Wildfires Are A Wake Up Call With No Answer

Satellite imagery compiled by the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS) and Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) using the NOAA-NASA Suomi NPP satellite (below) show thick aerosol particles moving across the west coast of the US that NASA says is on a scale scientists rarely see.

Satellite photographs: NASA

Residents of California and Oregon are now waking to the sight of thick orange skies, plumes of smoke and air pollution that has blocked out the sun. Photographs show the surreal sight of ruined buildings, shattered windows and cars. The emergency services are drafting the help of inmates from a prison programme in an attempt to cope with the fires.

Wildfires are anticipated annually, though their frequency and strength continue to grow each year beyond control causing millions of dollars worth of damage owing to long periods of drying and warming of both air and vegetation.

This image was marked with a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

“Our Oregon firefighters and the emergency management community have been fully engaged on these devastating fires, including the many first responders who have been personally affected by the evacuations, power outages and destruction. Their efforts, stamina and response are nothing short of heroic” said Oregon Office of Emergency Management Director Andrew Phelps said on Thursday. On Friday Mr Phelps made another statement regarding the death toll…”We know we are dealing with fire-related deaths, and we are preparing for a mass fatality incident based on what we know and the numbers of structures that have been lost,”

The fires are influenced by a number of factors including accidental ignition from ‘gender reveal parties’, but according to NASA, the main driver for its intensity are many.

“Lightning initially triggered many of the fires, but it was unusual and extreme meteorological conditions that turned some of them into the worst conflagrations in the region in decades. Record-breaking air temperatures, periods of unusually dry air, and blasts of fierce winds—on top of serious drought in some areas—led fires to ravage forests and loft vast plumes of smoke to rarely seen heights.”