Sep 11, 2020 - Science

California wildfires fuel a Northwest nightmare

A man stands in the rubble while wearing a bandana, as two women look on from a distance
In Talent, Ore., Rob Price helps his mother, Yvonne Webber, find personal items in her destroyed home. Photo: Paula Bronstein/AP

Portland and Seattle currently have the worst air quality in the world, thanks to wildfires raging along the length of the West Coast. Residents have been advised to stay indoors, particularly those with medical conditions.

The big picture: Wildfires are raging near population centers at the same time as they threaten cherished state landmarks.

  • Huge chunks of Oregon are under evacuation orders, and some towns are already razed.
  • A police car rolled through the streets of Molalla (pop. 9,000) with a loudspeaker blaring “evacuate now," AP reports.

Between the lines: Firefighters are also dealing with a second threat — misinformation.

  • “I am physically and emotionally exhausted,” firefighter Matt Lowery wrote Thursday night on Facebook, AP reports.
  • “I also want to address an issue that keeps coming up, even from some of the public that we are talking to while working. It is hot, dry, and fire spreads quickly in those conditions. There is nothing to show it's Antifa or Proud Boys setting fires. Wait for information.”

The bottom line: Climate change makes devastating wildfires more likely, and those wildfires worsen climate change.

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