Wildfires blazing from Washington to California have left 23 people dead and 4.4 million acres torched.
The West Coast is struggling with historic wildfires that have left unprecedented air pollution in their wake. On Friday, officials announced a new death toll and issued evacuation orders in Oregon. Meanwhile, Los Angeles and San Francisco saw a surge in smog. The Golden Gate Bridge was barely visible from parts of the Bay Area, the Daily Mail reported.
There are now 100 major fires burning in 12 states. They have destroyed more than 3.4m acres. According to the BBC, the causes of the fires ranged from faulty power lines to a gender reveal party gone awry.
As winds have died down, the air quality in California has declined, the LA Times reported. The pollution was worst in San Francisco and Oakland, Bay Area Air Quality Management District data showed.
The Swiss air quality monitoring company IQAir said Friday that Portland and San Francisco had the worst air quality in the world. San Francisco had an air quality index of 180 parts per billion (ppb) by Friday morning. (The limit considered safe is 70 ppb.) The air quality near Yosemite National Park had plunged to 400 ppb by Thursday.
“The wildfires are driving the weather,” the National Weather Service’s Drew Peterson told the LA Times. He said the smoke in the atmosphere is blocking the sun, rendering their weather predictions useless.
The fires have continued to spread across the West Coast. Officials in the Seattle area advised residents to stock up on essentials and close all windows Thursday, Newsweek reported.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes as a result of the fires.