Dozens of people are still missing as multiple wildfires continue to burn in Oregon, including two large blazes that could merge near the most populated cities. One of the infernos, part of which was started by a man who has been jailed for arson, destroyed two Southern Oregon towns.
State officials are “preparing for a mass fatality event,” said Andrew Phelps, the state’s emergency management director.
The state has not released a death toll, but at least eight fatalities have been reported so far in the state.
At least 40,000 people have evacuated and about half-million people have either been told to leave or prepare to do so. Hundreds of firefighters were working on blazes near Portland that were just a few miles apart in rugged terrain, in an attempt to keep them from merging, which could allow them to get hotter and spread faster.
Major fires are also burning near Salem and Eugene, heavily populated areas south of