Thousands of firefighters on Saturday tried to contain fires that devour the U.S. and Canadian West in a dry, hot and electric climate, where fire extinguishers could be quickly overcome.
Nearly 18,000 firefighters were deployed in the United States, where 70 large fires have already burned 4,000 km2, or about 40 times more than the Paris area, according to the latest reports.
The most devastating, Bootleg Fire, in the state of Oregon, only makes up a quarter of the damage and remains largely out of control despite the efforts of 2,100 firefighters.
As in the entire area, it is progressing rapidly “due to heat, drought and wind,” conditions that should remain “for a few days,” according to the site tracking InciWeb’s claims.
Dozens of homes were destroyed by the blaze, and at least 2,000 people were evacuated. “Smoke was everywhere, we switched from daylight to almost all night,” Debra Booth told AFP who just had time to board her two dogs before fleeing the house urgently.
The fire is advancing so fast that firefighters in some areas have had to retreat, operations manager Holly Krake was quoted as saying by local newspaper The Oregonian.
“So far we have the resources we need, but they are limited,” Ms. Krake said. “And we don’t see an end to the extreme climatic conditions responsible for fires and bootleg fires,” she underlined.
California, which is also on fire, but to a lesser extent so far, has promised to send reinforcements to help Oregon.
The situation could worsen further, with dry thunderstorms forecast for Sunday and Monday. Without rain, but with lightning, they are especially dangerous in areas where drought is abundant.
According to experts, global warming highlights extreme phenomena, such as insane temperatures and persistent drought in the western United States, but also in Canada.
On the north side of the border, more than 300 forest fires remained active on Saturday in the province of British Columbia alone. This time, too, Mexico promised help, which in this case sent 100 firefighters.
Canadian authorities have issued more than 50 evacuation warnings regarding 10,000 residences.
In the United States, the Department of Homeland Security has assured undocumented migrants who may have to go to shelters. Immigration police will not arrest “in places where there is relief,” the statement said.