Disasters & Accidents

US wildfire deaths approach 30, dozens missing

San Francisco, US, Sep 12 (efe-epa).- Three more people were killed on Saturday in one of the many large fires burning in the western United States, local authorities reported, elevating the total death toll to 28 since mid-August.

The numbers are expected to increase given that dozens of people remain missing.

The new deaths occurred in the North Complex fire, which has spread quickly in recent days in California and to the north of the state, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said at a press conference.

The fatalities have taken the total death toll in this fire to 12, while 13 people in the neighborhood remain missing.

The North Complex fire has razed 102,000 hectares of land and destroyed more than 2,000 buildings since it started 24 days ago. So far, firefighters have only managed to contain around 22 percent of it.

Just 350 kilometers north, in the neighboring state of Oregon, dozens of people remain missing.

Amid the chaos, prospects of those missing do not appear encouraging.

Oregon Emergency Management director Andrew Phelps said Friday they are preparing for a “mass fatality incident,” a term used in the US to refer to a large number of deaths, but which cannot be confirmed or managed by available resources at the moment.

In one of the few positive pieces of news in recent hours, Democratic Oregon Governor Kate Brown pointed to an error in the information previously issued by her office that up to half a million people had been evacuated, and revised the number to around 40,000.

The 500,000 initially reported by the state authorities – which would account for 10 percent of the entire population of the state – are not people who have already been evacuated, but people who have made preparations to leave their homes if necessary, Brown clarified.

Most of the fires were reported to have started in the middle of August due to lightning in the region. Since then, the dryness, strong winds and high temperatures have caused them to spread at a rapid pace. EFE-EPA

arc/sc/tw

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