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Death toll jumps sharply as wildfires continue to rage uncontrolled in western states

Death toll jumps sharply as wildfires continue to rage uncontrolled in western states
Posted at 7:53 AM, Sep 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-11 07:55:07-04

The death toll from a series of wildfires in western states rose sharply Thursday evening, and officials expect more casualties and damage in the coming days.

A total of 17 people have been killed in wildfires in California, Oregon and Washington in recent days. More than 100 fires are currently burning throughout 13 western states.

On Thursday evening, officials with the Butte County Sheriff's Office in California announced that seven more people had died in what is now known as the North Complex Fire, according to ABC News. That brings the death toll from that particular fire up to 10, with 16 people still missing.

ABC News also reports that one other person died Thursday in the Slater Fire, which is currently burning in Siskiyou County, California.

A total of four people have been killed in a series of wildfires in Oregon in recent days. One person died Thursday in the Almeda Fire in the southern part of the state, bringing the total death toll to two. Two others died in a wildfire near Salem on Wednesday.

In Washington, a 1-year-old boy was killed by the Cold Springs Fire, which is currently burning in the northeast part of the state.

USA Today reports that more than 500,000 people in Oregon have been forced to evacuate due to the wildfires — more than 10% of the state's population. Many of the fires burning in Oregon are currently 0% contained — further threatening forest, 900,000 acres of which have already been burned in the state. That's more than double what typically burns in an entire year.

“We have never seen this amount of uncontained fire across the state,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said Thursday.

The New York Times reports that officials in California, Oregon and Washington are struggling to find the manpower for fighting the fires, as nearby states deal with their own outbreaks of wildfires.

On Thursday evening, President Donald Trump approved an emergency declaration for the wildfires in Oregon, which allows FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate disaster relief efforts.