Approximately 500,000 evacuate wildfires in Oregon as death toll climbs

DaveAlan/iStockBy WILLIAM MANSELL, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — An estimated 500,000 people in Oregon have evacuated as a result of the wildfires burning hundreds of thousands of acres across the state, according to the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.

Amid the devastating blazes, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown issued an executive order to combat businesses that are trying to take advantage of those in need by price gouging. This is in response, she said, to reports that some essential consumer goods and services, especially lodging, are seeing increasing prices.

“During a statewide emergency, it is absolutely unacceptable to price gouge Oregonians who have already been hard hit and are facing devastating loss,” Brown said in a statement Thursday.

“As wildfires force thousands of Oregonians to abandon their homes, local businesses have stepped up to ensure that families can find essential goods and services at fair prices,” Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said in a statement Thursday.

As of Friday morning, there are 38 active fires burning more than 805,000 acres. The largest is the Beachie Creek Fire, which is more than 185,000 acres and is 0% contained. This deadly blaze has resulted in at least two deaths.

The Holiday Farm Fire has burned more than 144,000 acres and is also 0% contained. The Lionshead Fire, which is more than 125,000 acres and has resulted in at least four injuries, is 5% contained.

The Riverside Fire is 120,000 acres and is 0% contained, while the Archie Creek Fires is burning more than 107,000 acres and is 1% contained, according to OEM.

“Thousands of evacuated Oregonians are sleeping in motels, on cots in shelters, or with friends/family,” Brown tweeted. “Please know that we are doing everything in our power to fight these fires.”

While state and local emergency responders continue their work to battle the wildfires, they will now be getting some additional federal help.

A day after a delegation of Oregon lawmakers sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking for disaster assistance, the president approved Oregon’s Emergency Declaration.

“The President’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures … to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe,” a statement from the White House said.

The death toll from the West Coast wildfires has climbed to at least 17, but that number is expected to rise as many people remain unaccounted for, according to local officials.

In California, the fires are continuing to wreak havoc.

The North Complex Fire, formerly known as the Bear Fire, has burned more than 244,000 acres, is 23% contained and has resulted in at least 10 deaths. This deadly blazed has also destroyed at least 2,000 structures.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Thursday for Siskiyou County, where the Slater Fire is 127,000 acres and is 0% contained.

Cal Fire said Thursday evening that 2.6 million acres have burned across the state currently. Six of the top 20 largest wildfires in California history have occurred this year.

The August Complex Fire is 746,607 acres and is 25% contained.

The El Dorado Fire near San Bernardino is more than 13,000 acres and is 31% contained.

And in the state of Washington, the Cold Springs Fire in Okanogan County is more than 187,000 acres and is 25% contained.

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