And in California, there was not even temporary relief in sight, with the state fire agency saying Tuesday, “With no significant precipitation in sight, California remains dry and ripe for wildfires.” State leaders, facing not just this wildfire season, spoke about the need to face an indefinite future of fires worsened by climate change.
“Firefighters themselves, with decades of experience, are telling me that they’ve never seen fires like this before because of the extreme aridity combined with wind,” Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington State said at a news conference Tuesday.
As of early Wednesday, there were at least 25 major wildfires and fire complexes, the term given to multiple fires in a single geographic area, burning in California, Christine McMorrow, a Cal Fire information officer, said.
More than 2.8 million acres have either burned since August 15 or are on fire now, she said.
Late Tuesday, emergency officials reported progress on some of the biggest fires around the region. The growth of the Beachie Creek fire, which has burned more than 190,000 acres east of Salem, Ore., had slowed, and the fire was 20 percent contained as of Wednesday morning. The August Complex fire, which has burned almost 800,000 acres north of Sacramento, was 30 percent contained, and the 220,000-acre North Complex fire, to its east, was 18 percent contained.
Governor Inslee said that Washington State was now in position to help its neighbors, if in a small way, by sharing some of its resources with Oregon.
“We’re confident right now that we have enough personnel and equipment to protect our communities,” he said. “It’s not a lot but it is a gesture that, again, we are all in this together.”
But he also warned residents of Western states that stepping outside exposed them to some of the worst air conditions in the world. The air, he said, was at “historically polluted levels” and “unhealthy at best and hazardous at worst, according to our state health experts.”