Across the US west coast, raging wildfires have destroyed small towns and forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate their homes in California, Washington and Oregon.
Oregon governor Kate Brown said on Thursday afternoon that wildfires were still burning more than 900,000 acres in the state and 80,000 people have had to evacuate their homes.
California breached a grim record on Thursday when the August Complex fire in Tehama County became the state’s largest-ever recorded wildfire, burning an estimated 471,185 acres north of Sacramento.
The extent of the destruction is not yet clear as firefighters continue to work on containing the blazes, but photos show entire neighbourhoods levelled and smouldering. As of Thursday night, there had been at least seven reported deaths.
Here are the towns that have been destroyed by the fires this week.
Berry Creek, California
At least three people were found dead after the North Complex fire, previously known as the Bear fire, moved quickly through Berry Creek, a small town in Northern California’s Butte County.
About 2,000 structures were also destroyed as the North Complex fire spread to more than 250,000 acres of the region, including in Plumas County, by Wednesday evening.
Videos filmed in Butte County show charred cars and gas stations, downed power lines and smouldering forests. Local filmmaker Nancy Hamilton recorded video of fires surrounding both sides of a road in Berry Creek as cars drove by.
At least 12 people have been reported missing in the areas affected by the North Complex fire, CBS San Francisco reported.
“Our situation over the last 36 hours has been dangerous, it’s been deadly, it’s been extremely destructive,” Cal Fire Chief John Messina told reporters on Wednesday.
On Tuesday night, fire crews had to rescue more than 100 people, fire officials told The Mercury News. About 20,000 people are under evacuation orders in Butte County.
Winds and hot temperatures have exacerbated the fires. Meanwhile, the August Complex fire burning in Tehama County, west of Plumas and Butte Counties, became California’s largest-ever wildfire, sprawling over 471,000 acres, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The Babbs Road fire consumed at least 80% of Malden, a small town in eastern Washington state. Governor Jay Inslee told reporters at a Tuesday news conference that the fire spread to more than 330,000 acres of the region within 24 hours.
“Everything around me is gone,” Larry Frick, a Malden resident, told NBC News on Wednesday. “All my neighbours, everything. There’s no standing structure.”
Frick was able to save his home with hoses and a sprinkler system. He was later joined by volunteer firefighters after his deck started to burn, NBC News reported.
While touring the town on Tuesday, KHQ News reporter Bradley Warren tweeted, “most everything is gone but their church is still standing.”The fire that tore through Malden, which has a population of 200, is just one of 58 fires that burned across the state, many of which were sparked on Labor Day, according to state Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz.
Inslee noted that officials believe the fires were caused by humans.
Several Towns In Oregon
Brown said that several towns in Oregon, including Phoenix, Talent, Detroit and Blue River, were “substantially destroyed” in wildfires across the state.
“This could be the greatest loss of human life and property due to wildfire in our state’s history,” the governor told reporters on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the Almeda fire spread across the towns of Phoenix and Talent in southern Oregon, where an estimated 11,000 people live, according to CNN.
Noelle Crombie, a reporter for The Oregonian, drove through the Barnum Road subdivision in Phoenix on Thursday and found blocks of homes that had burned to the ground with the skeletons of cars in driveways.
Talent city officials said in a news release that the fire caused “widespread property damage with loss of hundreds of structures.”
Early reports on the destruction estimate 600 residences were burned in the Almeda fire, which is under criminal investigation.
Police said they discovered a body near the origin of the fire, according to local station NewsWatch 12.
Detroit mayor Jim Trett told Oregon Public Broadcasting that residents of the lakeside resort town were forced to evacuate their residences late on Monday night and early on Tuesday morning.
Trett described the evacuation as “frantic” and said he and other residents haven’t been allowed to visit the town, though video filmed in the area shows homes that have completely burned.
Trett told OPB that “pretty much all of our businesses,” except for one store, and “a majority of our homes” have been destroyed.
The Holiday Farm fire in western Oregon burned 145,000 acres and moved toward the towns of Blue River, which faced destruction, and Vida, which remains under evacuation orders.
Melanie Stanley, a Blue River resident who is known as the town’s “unofficial mayor,” told KTVZ that the town had completely burned down.
“The town of Blue River is 100% gone,” Stanley told the news station. “Our area was beautiful, and it’s nothing but burnt sticks right now.”