Eerie, red-skied images of Oregon flooded social media on Tuesday as parts of the state were ravaged by destructive wildfires that have prompted thousands of people to evacuate.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) said the state was experiencing an “unprecedented fire event” as several significant fires continued to grow due to hot, dry and windy weather. Brown said people’s homes, lives and land were at risk, and more than 230,000 acres had been burned.
Emergency declarations were issued for the state’s Beachie Creek, Lionshead, Holiday Farm and Alameda fires. The rapid growth of the Beachie Creek and Lionshead fires have prompted officials to name them a single blaze, the Santiam fire. That blaze, centered in the Santiam Canyon, has blanketed the city of Salem in a thick smoke that’s painted the sky in apocalyptic oranges and reds.
“Almost every year since becoming governor, I’ve witnessed historic wildfire seasons,” Brown said in a news conference. “This past weekend, we experienced significant wind that is fueling wildfires with devastating consequences across Oregon on top of a dire pandemic.”
Wildfires are raging across the West Coast, in California and Washington.
Oregon residents posted images of the Mars-like conditions as smoke darkened the skies.