Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

A firefighter works at the scene of the Bobcat Fire burning on hillsides near Monrovia Canyon Park, in Monrovia, Calif., on Sept. 15, 2020.


With resources stretched to the limit, weary crews fought to make progress on Thursday against deadly wildfires sweeping the western United States, with a U.S. senator who toured hard-hit Oregon saying it looked like the aftermath of Second World War firebombings.

Scores of fires have burned about 1.3 million hectares in California since mid-August and another 647,500 hectares in Oregon and Washington State since Labour Day on Sept. 7, laying waste to several small towns, destroying thousands of homes and claiming at least 34 lives.

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon described driving 965 kilometres in his state to get a firsthand look at the devastation, visiting refugee centres, fire control centres and towns burned by the blazes.

Story continues below advertisement

“That 600 miles, I never got out of the smoke. I remember fires in the past where I was driving and I would be in the smoke for 20 or 30 minutes – that’s a big fire. This is apocalyptic,” Mr. Merkley told CNN. “To see … these towns burnt to the ground, it looks like a World War Two town hit by firebombing – thousands of homes destroyed, residences destroyed.”

Mr. Merkley said a lot of affordable housing was lost, including apartment buildings and mobile home parks, while some commercial districts were burned to the ground.

“It’s overwhelming,” the Democratic senator added.

The West Coast wildfires have filled the region’s skies with smoke and soot.

Air quality along portions of the western U.S. coastline, from Olympic National Park in Washington state to San Francisco, was the clearest in days on Thursday. Smoke levels abated enough on Wednesday that environmental agencies lifted an air quality advisory for coastal Oregon and southeastern Washington.

Several kilometres inland, air in the Oregon cities of Portland, Salem and Bend still registered as “hazardous” on Thursday, according to a state air quality tracking site.

Kyle Sullivan, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Medford, Ore., said the clearing smoke has allowed more firefighting to take place in the air with helicopters and planes dropping retardant.

Story continues below advertisement

“We haven’t seen a lot of significant fire growth [this week]. It hasn’t been super windy or super hot,” Mr. Sullivan said.

Eight deaths have been confirmed in Oregon. One fire-related fatality has been confirmed in Washington State.

With the potential for some rain beginning on Friday in affected areas of Oregon, weather conditions may help the fight.

“We are anticipating a small amount of moisture coming in this weekend, but it’s not going to be enough to end the fire season. It’ll help with firefighting efforts, but we’re still anxious about the potential for new starts,” Mr. Sullivan added.


Drew Hansen, a 31-year-old logger raised on a tree farm near Molalla, Ore., about an hour south of Portland, was part of a volunteer firefighting force battling the Riverside and Beachie Creek fires since Sept. 8.

“This is my backyard, we’re fighting for our homes and families up here,” Mr. Hansen said as he and a crew rested outside his parents' farmhouse, about eight kilometres southeast of Molalla. “It feels like we’ve not slept in a week. Even when I have slept, I’m dreaming of fire.”

Story continues below advertisement

Oregon is unaccustomed to the size and number of blazes that it has been experiencing, which have gained ground because of drought conditions and high winds. With improved weather finally enabling fire crews to take the offensive, crews have worked to beat back the state’s largest blaze this season – the 76,900-hectare Beachie Creek fire. It was 20 per cent contained as of Thursday morning.

Cooler weather and increasing humidity on Thursday was expected to help firefighting efforts in California, but authorities said warmer and drier weather during the weekend would bring more fire danger.

California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said more than 17,400 firefighters combatted 26 fires on Thursday, while the state’s death toll stood at 25. About 5,400 structures have been destroyed since mid-August, it said.

“While progress was made on a number of fires, several others saw growth due to increased fire behaviour and firing operations,” the agency said.

The Bobcat fire burning north of Los Angeles remains one of the more worrisome in California at just 3-per-cent containment. It has burned more than 20,400 hectares since Sept. 6, authorities said. Fresh evacuations have been ordered in the Antelope Valley in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains north of Los Angeles.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies