As the West Coast fires continue to consume millions of acres, there are now 36 confirmed fatalities and at least 22 missing people. In addition to the major fires burning in California, Washington, and Oregon, there are also active fire situations in Idaho, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Texas, Wyoming, Arizona, Montana, Alaska, and South Dakota. Here is the latest on this extremely fluid and dire situation.
California Wildfires Update: As of Tuesday morning, the state of California has dispatched more than 16,600 firefighters to take position on the frontlines of at least 25 major fires consuming the region. Going back to the beginning of the year, there have been over 3.2 million acres lost. Here is an update on some of the largest wildfires consuming the state.
- North Complex Fire – Responsible for at least 15 fatalities, this is currently the most deadly fire in the state. The North Complex Fire has now burned over 269,000 acres and is only 32% contained with multiple active evacuation orders in place.
- Creek Fire – This fire in Central California’s Sierra Nevada Forest has now ravaged over 220,000 acres and is sitting at a containment of 16%. While there have been no lives lost as a result of the blaze, there is an exceptionally high tree mortality rate because of its location in a heavily wooded area.
- August Complex Fire – Located in the Mendocino National Forest, this fire has now burned over 803,000 acres and taken one life. The blaze is only 30% contained. This fire is a conglomeration of the Elkhorn, Hopkins, Willow, Vinegar, and Doe fires.
- Slater Fire – This Siskiyou County fire is burning with ease in the Klamath National Forest, consuming over 131,000 acres so far. The fire is responsible for two fatalities. Firefighters continue to battle the fire that is only 10% contained.
Oregon Wildfires Update: Just north of California in Oregon, these major fires are still a significant cause for concern.
- Beachie Fire – Located south of Portland in Marion County, the Beachie Fire has burned nearly 200,000 acres. While the blaze is only 15% contained, some evacuation orders were removed or downgraded on Monday as firefighters got a better handle on the flames. The Beachie Creek blaze and the Riverside Fire are located only one mile apart, prompting concern by authorities that the two may merge shortly as the dry conditions persist. The Riverside Fire has consumed over 135,000 with 0% containment.
- Holiday Farm Fire – The Holiday Farm Fire has now destroyed 166,000 acres. Located east of Springfield in the Willamette National Forest, the massive blaze is only 6% contained. There is currently an inversion layer hovering over the fire, bringing small amounts of rain. However, this inversion is expected to dissipate on Tuesday, potentially increasing the chance that the fire explodes.
- Lionshead Fire – The Lionshead Fire is burning on both sides of the Cascade Mountains. Communities affected by this fire include Detroit, Idanha, and Marion Forks. The fire is only 5% contained after burning through 168,000 acres so far. The blaze experienced a large amount of growth overnight Monday.
Air Quality Continues to Suffer: According to IQAir, the western portion the US currently has the worst air quality of any place on the planet. Specifically, the cities of Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco are seeing dangerous levels of smoke in the air. The polluted air is reaching as far north as Vancouver, British Columbia. Some school districts in Portland were forced to cancel classes because of the dangerous air quality conditions. The haze is reaching as far as the East Coast of the US.
Multiple Post Offices Forced to Close: As the fires continue to rage, many post offices up and down the coast have been forced to temporarily close. As of Tuesday, there are 12 post office locations closed in both California and Oregon, as well as one in Washington state. The USPS website is helping customers to find their packages and mail at alternative locations.