Western US Ravaged by Wildfires

Western US communities are experiencing a tougher that usual wildfire season. Here is a short summary of events. 

Wildfires in the US from satellite imagery aquired 5th August 2015 (http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=86366)

Wildfires in western parts of the US are not uncommon. However, it appears that this years wildfire season is particularly difficult, and has fire crews stretched throughout the region. There are many dozens of wildfires occurring, which is resulting in some US$150 million per week being spent in an attempt to control them. Some 12,000 firefighters are battling at least 17 wildfires in California. Nearly 70,000 acres of land has be subjected to wildfire in Oregonand concerns have been raised about air quality levels sweeping across urban areas. This can be particularly problematic for those with asthma. 

The sky is yellow and you can barely see downtown from here. – Portland resident, Amber Ackerson

Paper “comfort” or “dust” masks found at hardware stores are inadequate, and do not filter out the fine particles in smoke that can harm your lungs. – Department of Environmental Quality

Sadly, three firefighters lost their lives while attempting to control a fire in Twisp after a sudden shift in the wind. 

200 houses have been destroyed in Washington, with over 12,000 still threatened.

President Barack Obama has declared a federal emergency in Washington State where fires are becoming out of control. As a result of such stretched resources,  volunteers are being trained to help (a first in state history), and Australia and New Zealand have sent personnel to assist with the emergency response. 

See the video below to get an idea of just how widespread the wildfires are.

Unfortunately, wildfires in the western part of the US are likely going to be a regular occurrence, and probably become longer and more frequent due to climate change.

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