Law enforcement agencies across the West Coast have arrested multiple alleged arsonists accused of intentionally setting fires while hundreds of blazes wreak havoc in several states.
At least seven people have died, hundreds of homes have been destroyed, and countless communities have been evacuated, CNN reported.
A one-year-old boy was killed in Washington state as he and his parents tried to flee the Cold Springs Fire over Labor Day weekend, KOMO reported.
The bodies of three victims were located in Butte County, California – the same location where the deadly Camp Fire took place in 2018, according to VICE.
Three more people were killed in two counties in Oregon.
“We also fear that this is not going to be the only folks we’ll find deceased up there,” Marion County Sheriff Joe Kast told CNN.
There are currently 20 large #wildfires burning 476,027 acres in Oregon & Washington. Extreme fire weather continues across the region. We all need to do everything we can to minimize every single spark because, w/these conditions, a spark could easily result in a wildfire. pic.twitter.com/DdyHKqGlOb
— Forest Service NW (@ForestServiceNW) September 8, 2020
Oregon Governor Kate Brown echoed that fear during a press conference on Wednesday, according to VICE.
“We expect to see a great deal of loss, both in structures and in human lives,” Brown told reporters. “This could be the greatest loss of human lives and property due to wildfire in our state’s history.”
Firefighters continue to build and reinforce control lines on the Sweet Creek Milepost 2 Fire. Helicopters are dropping water on the fire. Estimated at over 500 acres, the fire is burning south in forestland, away from the town of Mapleton. Read more at https://t.co/eHBnnOWDI8 pic.twitter.com/9lYmpJJDu3
— Oregon Forestry (@ORDeptForestry) August 31, 2020
— BLM Oregon & Washington (@BLMOregon) September 9, 2020
A total of 24 wildfires remained active in California on Thursday, having burned nearly 2.5 million acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
Just two of those blazes have been contained.
— CAL FIRE Butte Unit/Butte County Fire Department (@CALFIRE_ButteCo) September 9, 2020
Sixteen fires – none of which have been contained – raged across Oregon, burning 700,000 acres.
Washington state was battling 16 wildfires on Thursday, none of which had been contained.
Fire Update 2/2: Firefighters prioritizing critical life-safety needs during extreme fire conditions on the #RiversideFire near Mt. Hood, OR. Full details: https://t.co/Mo4hjlTzE7 #ClackamasWildfires pic.twitter.com/KSmf8eTETY
— Mt. Hood National Forest (@MtHoodNF) September 9, 2020
WOW! The train bridge is aglow after it caught fire last night. This is off I-82 between Prosser and Benton City in Washington State. pic.twitter.com/AHU9lbBjbo
— Lauzoo (@takeadive45) September 8, 2020
Over half a million acres of the Evergreen State has been left in ashes.
“When it hit, it was like a blowtorch,” East Pierce Fire Chief Bud Backer told CNN.
We need everybody to heed the forest closures in place. These are vital for safety & fire operations going on. Mt. Hood & Willamette National Forests are currently closed to all public access. No trails, roads or campgrounds are open. Please keep the roads clear for fire crews! pic.twitter.com/FcQYgW9BGR
— Forest Service NW (@ForestServiceNW) September 10, 2020
There are currently 30 large #wildfires burning 1,032,860 acres in Oregon & Washington. This is more than a 100% increase in just 48 hours. Conditions are still hot, dry & windy. Please be safe & take good care. https://t.co/ELFHinpbiP pic.twitter.com/yqjom0UnIl
— Forest Service NW (@ForestServiceNW) September 10, 2020
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) in Oregon announced in a Facebook post on Sept. 1 that it had arrested 44-year-old Elias Newton Pendergrass on a first-degree arson charge in connection with the Sweet Creek Fires.
The arrest was the result of a joint investigation between the LCSO and the Oregon State Police.
On Tuesday, a suspect ignited two brush fires in Oregon’s Dexter State Recreation Area, KMTR reported.
Witnesses caught the middle-aged suspect in the act, and told police he took off in a green SUV.
The witnesses were able to get the fires out before first responders arrived, KMTR reported.
Oregon’s 8th largest city, #Medford, is under a mandatory evacuation order. 82,000 people.
The #AlmedaFire that destroyed the suburban towns of Talent & Phoenix is entering the city.
The fire is 0% contained. pic.twitter.com/B7OChECKeJ
— Nick Knudsen 🇺🇸 (@DemWrite) September 9, 2020
This is not a fire 🔥 caused by explosive. But this is a fire 🔥 burning now in Oregon by Climate Change. Our house is now on fire. Your house turn will come soon 🔥 . What we left now?
Only solution is climate action now.pic.twitter.com/lGQLW1Mo3q
— Licypriya Kangujam (@LicypriyaK) September 10, 2020
Police in Spokane, Washington, arrested 36-year-old Christine Comello for allegedly starting at least two fires in the area, KHQ reported.
Witnesses told police they saw Comello start one fire outside a commercial business, and accused her of setting a second fire next to an oil drum beneath a tree, police said.
She has been charged with first-degree arson, second-degree arson, and burglary, KHQ reported.
Comello also had an active warrant for reckless burning and burglary, which was tied to a prior incident involving her allegedly setting fires at a Spokane Valley business several weeks earlier, according to YakTriNews.
— Karan Woketopian (@karankees) September 7, 2020
Washington State Patrol (WSP) District 1 Public Information Officer Trooper Ryan Burke announced in a tweet on Wednesday that officers from multiple jurisdictions apprehended a 36-year-old man for setting a fire in the median of SR-167 in Puyallup.
The Gateway Pundit identified the suspect as Jeffrey Accord, a local Black Lives Matter activist.
In California, highway patrol troopers arrested 37-year-old Anita Esquivel for allegedly starting an unspecified number of fires in the area of Highway 101 near Boronda Road at about 9 a.m. on Monday, KION reported.
Esquivel has been charged with arson.
Very sad this fires 😢😢😢😢 pic.twitter.com/oYHTFoYVCz
— Isabelgothicechelon💘🇵🇹🇺🇲🇧🇷 (@Biogeo) September 10, 2020
In addition to the fires burning in California, Oregon, and Washington, crews are also battling blazes in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, the National Interagency Fire Center said on Thursday.
Over 26,000 firefighters and support personnel are currently fighting a total of 102 large-scale fires that have burned over 4.4 million acres in 12 states so far.