What will happen next? Destructive fires are the latest challenge in the West

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Salam: The path of catastrophe spans thousands of miles where flames have left people, homes and cars a barren, gray landscape.
But large-scale wildfires are not chewed from the west, smoke choking the sky or driving residents from their homes.
It is an ominous precursor of the collapse for the region that was first killed by the coronovirus and where crises for social justice sparked protests this summer, particularly in Portland for more than 100 days.
“What will happen next?” Asked Daniel Oliver, who had fled his home in Portland ahead of the deadly flames. “You are opposed, coronovirus epidemic, now forest dwellers.
What else can go wrong? He is one of thousands displaced by wildfires in Oregon, California And Washington State. Many more are living at historic highs with levels of air pollution. The death toll in the region has risen to above 30 and could increase rapidly, with Oregon officials saying they are preparing for a possible “mass casualty incident” if more carcasses are found in the ashes.
Among those killed was Millicent Catrensic, who was found near his car at his 5-acre home in Berry Creek, California. At one point she was ready to hang out with her dogs and cats in the car. But later she changed her mind as the winds seemed calm and the flames were far away.
The fire then changed direction, to leave as quickly as possible on the property. She died, along with her animals.
“I think so, maybe when they passed, he had an army of cats and dogs with him to help him,” said his daughter, Holly Catranukic.
George Cable lost everything he owned just outside Mill City, Oregon – his fence-building business, five houses where his family lived and a collection of vintage cars, including the 1967 Mustang.
“We’ll just keep working and keep our heads up and thank God everyone got out,” said Cobal.
In a nearby town, Eric Tucker spent days wrapped in ashes and smelled with charcoal, dipping the hot spots while pouring bucket water through hot water spots.
“No power, debris everywhere, smoke, can’t breathe,” he said, his words sparse with ashes in the air.
The post-World War II scene in Europe resembles the fire-ravaged cities in which the buildings were toppled, reduced by piles of debris that fell over the earth. People caught by wild animals recovering from flames or smoke were killed instantly as they tried to escape.
The death toll has so far declined in California, as more than two dozen active major fires have burned thousands of square miles. President Donald Trump plans to go for a briefing on Monday.
Some of the worst blazes were still burning in northeast Washington and Oregon. The democratic governors of the three states have said that the fire is the result of global warming.
The party’s presidential candidate Joe Biden said, “We must act now to avoid a future defined by an uncontrolled barrage of tragedies like that of American families.”
The dry, windy conditions of the flames were probably a one-time generation event, said Greg Jones, a professor and research climatologist at Linfield University in McMinnville, Oregon. He said that a warmer world could increase the likelihood of extreme events and contribute to their severity.
There was some good news on Saturday: The same smoke that touched California’s skies helped the crew in the state’s deadliest explosion this year by blocking the sun, lowering temperatures and raising humidity.
Smoke also made cooler conditions in Oregon. A spokesman for the state’s environmental quality, Laura Gleim, said some places were also blamed for causing the lowest air inundation in at least 35 years.
In Portland, the smell of a pungent metal like a faint penny filled the air. It was so rough that Ashley Kreiter could not see the road when she headed to work as a driver to service the ride.
He said, “I couldn’t see five feet ahead of me.” “I was panicking, I didn’t know I wanted to go out.” People stuffed towels under door jams to keep out smoke or to wear N95 masks in their homes.
Meanwhile, there was political turmoil as Oregon’s fire marshals were forced out, while one and a half million state residents were under evacuation warnings or orders to leave. Details were scarce as to why he was placed on leave and resigned after an almost unprecedented disaster.
Oliver, 40, who ran away from his Portland-area home, has an autoimmune disorder. She was terrified of going to a shelter due to coronavirus, but another option was sleeping in a car with her husband, 15-year-old daughter, two dogs and a cat.
Temperature checks and social disturbances at the American Red Cross shelter helped ease her mind. Oliver previously lived homeless and now can only hope to survive the family home.
“I’m tired. I’m tired of starting everything,” he said. “Getting everything, working for everything, then losing everything.”

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