A woman who lost her home at a trailer park surrounded by burned cars and properties destroyed in the Almeda Fire in Talent, Oregon, on Sept. 16. Photo: Paula Bronstein/AFP via Getty Images

79 large wildfires are burning across the U.S. West, mostly in California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho, per a Bureau of Land Management statement Wednesday.

The big picture: The mega-fires have killed at least 35 people and burned some 5 million acres in Oregon, Washington and California, where air quality is among the worst in the world. Smoke from the blazes has been affecting East Coast skies this week. It's also been spotted some 5,000 miles away in Europe.

Oregon
A 12-year-old girl gets a free haircut from a hairdresser at the evacuation center at the Jackson County Fairgrounds in Central Point on Sept. 16. Photo: Paula Bronstein/AFP via Getty Images
Downtown Portland, Oregon, on Sept. 14. Alaska Airlines announced that night it's suspending all flights to and from Portland, Oregon, and Spokane, Washington, because of the smoke. Photo: Robyn Beck /AFP/Getty Images Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images
Homeowners survey their property in a neighborhood destroyed by wildfire on in Talent on Sept. 13. Photo: David Ryder/Getty Images
A woman drops off donations for residents evacuated from the Riverside Fire at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds in Canby Sept. 13. Photo: Robyn Bec/AFP via Getty Images
California
Homes destroyed by the now-mostly contained Hennessey Fire in Napa, California, on Sept. 15. The fire has burned over 315,000 acres, razed 633 structures and killed five people. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Neighborhoods surrounded by the Bobcat Fire as new evacuation orders go into effect on Sept. 13 in Monrovia, California. Gov. Gavin Newsom likened the air quality fire zones "to smoking 20 packs of cigarettes." Photo: David McNew/Getty Images
A firefighter surveys the burned remains of Berry Creek School in California on September 14, 2020. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
Firefighters on Sept. 13 keep an eye on the Bobcat Fire as it burns on a hillside behind homes in Arcadia. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images
Washington
A seagull flies past cranes on Harbor Island as smoke from wildfires fills the air on Sept. 12 in Seattle. Photo: Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images
Smoke from wildfires obscure the Space Needle and the Seattle skyline on Sept. 12 in Seattle. Photo: Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images
Idaho
Part of Highway 21 between Grandjean and 10 miles outside of Stanley, is closed due to a wildfire in Salmon-Challis National Forest. Photo: U.S. Forest Service/Facebook
The Trap Fire was reported on the Sawtooth National Forest on Sept. 14 and is "burning on both sides of Highway 21," the U.S. Forest Service notes. Photo: U.S. Forest Service/Facebook

Go deeper: Portland has world's worst air quality as West Coast fires raze 5M acres

Editor's note: This article has been updated with more details and images from the fires.

Go deeper

Gov. Jay Inslee describes “cataclysmic” fire conditions in Washington

Gov. Jay Inslee in Olympia, Washington. Photo: Axios

Gov. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) described the deadly wildfires sweeping the West Coast as "cataclysmic" for Washington state at an Axios virtual event on Thursday and said that climate change has made the problem worse.

What he's saying: "What we're experiencing in Washington is profound changes particularly in our grassland and our sage brush. It's incredibly dry, very hot, and as a result we have explosive conditions in the state of Washington," he said.

Smoke from U.S. fires reaches Europe

A firefighter works at the scene of the Bobcat Fire burning on hillsides near Monrovia Canyon Park in Monrovia, California on Tuesday. Photo: Ringo Chiu/AFP via Getty Images

Smoke from the historic wildfires ravaging the U.S. West was observed over the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe this week, and it will return to the continent this weekend, per European scientists' research.

Why it matters: "The fact that these fires are emitting so much pollution into the atmosphere that we can still see thick smoke" some 5,000 miles away "reflects just how devastating they have been in their magnitude and duration," said Mark Parrington, senior scientist at the European Commission's Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), which studied the data, in a statement.

Air quality in American West among the worst in the world

The air quality in Portland has become the worst in the world — with Seattle, Los Angeles and Denver also ranking up there with notoriously polluted places like Delhi and Shanghai.

Why it matters: Big-city residents often consider themselves smugly immune to the physical wreckage of calamities like wildfires, floods and hurricanes. The pernicious smoke now blanketing the splendid cities of our nation's Western spine is a reminder that no one is exempt from climate change.