A child in Washington state was killed in the Cold Springs Fire, officials said Wednesday. Two of the child’s relatives were airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where they’re both in critical condition and being treated by burn specialists, according to a hospital spokeswoman.
Three people were killed in fires in Oregon, including two in Marion County and one in Jackson County.
“We also fear that this is not going to be the only folks we’ll find deceased up there,” Marion County Sheriff Joe Kast said.
And in California, officials said they are working to recover the remains of three people who died in Butte County in the North Complex Fires.
“It was terrifying,” resident Nancy Hamilton told CNN of the fires that tore through the Berry Creek area. “It was a beast. The thing is a beast.”
Hamilton, a filmmaker, drove through the area Wednesday to get a closer look at the destruction. She says he’s currently housing several families who were forced to evacuate their homes, including her best friend’s 80-year-old grandmother whose home was swallowed by the flames.
“They’re pretty devastated,” Hamilton said. “She just lost everything.”
“I was able to take photos for her so at least she knows that it was gone,” she said. “A lot of people don’t know their houses are gone and they’re wondering.”
In Central California, the Creek Fire has destroyed about 260 structures, fire officials said. It’s now grown to more than 166,000 acres in remains 0% contained.
At least 30,000 people were evacuated due to the fire. But returning residents to their homes will likely be a lengthy process, Fresno County Sheriff’s Deputy Lieutenant Brandon Pursell said Wednesday.
“It’s going to be probably a couple weeks, just be patient with us,” Pursell said.
Their home is one of dozens that have been lost to the Creek Fire. Now the family is sheltering with Wait’s parents in Hanford and other family members in Fresno.
“We’ve taken refuge here. We’re nomads right now,” he said. “We’ve got our duffle bags and when we wear out our welcome, we move on to the next house.”
On Wednesday, all 18 national forests in the state were ordered closed due to the “explosive growth” of wildfires, a notice from forest service officials said. Those temporary closures encompass more than 20 million acres of land.
“The number of large fires and extreme fire behavior we are seeing across the State is historic,” said Regional Forester Randy Moore. “I ask all Californians and visitors to take these closures and evacuations seriously for their own safety.”
This time last year, California saw 4,927 fires that burned 118,000 acres, according to the governor. In 2020, there have been 7,606 blazes so far.
“Wildfires are a big part of the seasonal challenge,” Newsom said. “The challenge we’re facing now is the extreme fire events that we believe are climate induced.”
Nearly 50 active wildfires in Oregon have consumed more than 470,000 acres across the state, according to the state’s office of emergency management. Hundreds of homes and parts of several communities have been destroyed.
“This could be the greatest loss of human lives and property due to wildfire in our state’s history,” Gov. Kate Brown said in a news conference Wednesday.
And for those areas that have yet to see wildfires, Brown warned, “the worst fire conditions in three decades persist.”
Moyle’s family was able to escape in the early morning hours Monday after a phone call from a concerned neighbor. “We left not thinking we weren’t going to have a home, so we left without much,” Moyle told the news station.
The family found the smoldering remains of their home when they returned Wednesday morning. After sifting through what was left, they were able to recover just a few small items, Moyle said.
“I don’t know where my family is going to go,” Moyle told KATU.
According to the US Forest Service, the fire has been fueled by high winds and dry conditions. It’s been “fed by a series of small fires largely caused by downed power lines and other ignition sources throughout the area,” the US Forest Service said.
“In Western Washington, the old rule of thumb used to be if it was 20% you got out of the way because you were expecting erratic fire behavior,” East Pierce Fire Chief Bud Backer said, according to the station. “But with homes in the way, we didn’t have that luxury.”
“When it hit, it was like a blow torch.”
In a Twitter post, Gov. Jay Inslee said the fire chief said he hadn’t seen a fire explode like this one “in his 33 years of service.
“He was yanking on my door and telling me to run. I thought he was a little nuts. I didn’t think it was that bad,” Herde said.
“Five minutes after, I walked out the door. It was crawling through trees,” the 71-year-old said. “And you can’t believe how fast those embers were flying at you.”
He found his home a pile of rubble. Now he just has to clothes on his back.
“Someplace in that pile, there is my mother’s rings, and it tore my heart out,” he said. “That’s something that sort of killed me this morning. The rest of this stuff — it’s stuff that you can replace.”
CNN’s Pierre Meilhan, Tina Burnside and Sarah Moon contributed to this report.