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Oregon Fires: Oregon authorities battle conspiracy theories while firefighters fight the flames



Multiple fires in Washington, Oregon and California have destroyed more than 4.7 million acres and killed at least 34 people.

Law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, have quashed conspiracy theories that antifa extremists set fires and cut power lines, Sheriff Craig Roberts said Wednesday in Clackamas County, Oregon.

“With every tip we get, we follow it through to the end,” said Roberts, but investigators usually find that the tipsters’ information was “from a friend of a friend” who has no evidence. In one case, Roberts said a group that reportedly stowing petrol cans in the forest to start fires was actually “good Samaritans”

; helping to transport fuel for rescue workers.

There are legitimate concerns about the fires, Roberts said. Fifteen people were arrested in connection with looting in evacuation zones – none with extremist ties, he said. He also reiterated that it was illegal for individuals to set up their own armed checkpoints.

“We don’t want armed citizens to stop people inappropriately,” he said.

Governor says fires are a sign of climate change

The fires follow California’s hottest August in the state’s history, and Governor Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that climate change was to blame.

“The basic facts cannot be denied,” Newsom said. “The trend lines are not going in the right direction.”

Opinion: This is the climate election
The governor’s comments come just two days after President Donald Trump refused to acknowledge the impact the climate crisis had on the state’s wildfires during a visit to California where he toured a wildfire-ravaged area with Newsom.

Newsom said Wednesday it had “faced the president directly with climate change” – although a video from the press conference earlier this week shows a gentler exchange between leaders.

“I think there is a way to get closer to people and good people can disagree,” Newsom said. “And I say we are making progress and to the extent that we are heard I believe we are.”

However, he said that he did not expect Trump to “radically change course”.

“I will continue to be persistent as I imagine it to be. It’s not a belief system, it’s data,” he said. “Science. You have to acknowledge facts.”

A bulldozer digs a fire mine while a Cal Fire aircraft does a phos check near a 110 acre fire at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

California “ripe for forest fires”

The August Complex Fire is the largest in California history, has consumed more than 817,000 acres and continues to burn. And with a warming trend returning over the weekend, authorities said it probably won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

“With no significant rainfall in sight, California remains arid and ripe for forest fires,” said Cal Fire.

The state saw the effects of the recent drought last month when an extreme heatwave sparked a rash of fires. The 136 million trees that did not survive that the lack of rainfall acted as “kindling,” Newsom said.

Thousands of buildings were destroyed in this round of flames. One of them was Brian Merzoian’s dream home.

“It’s devastating,” he told CNN subsidiary KFSN. “You just notice that your space is literally reduced to ashes and everything that was in it is really nothing to be seen. I could see that the wood stove survived, but that was about it.”

Smoking conditions and visibility are improving in Northern California, according to the National Weather Service’s Bay Area Office.

“There is still smoke in parts of northern and inner #California, but parts of the #SanFrancisco area are FINALLY seeing blue skies – and that is not to be taken for granted,” the office tweeted.

Workers continue to repair the power grid after the flames from the Beachie Creek fire burn through the Fishermen's Bend Recreation Area in Mill City, Oregon.

School continues as the battle continues in Oregon

Oregon is returning to normal with schools starting after fire delays in the capital, Salem, according to KPTV, a subsidiary of CNN.

The forest fires have “made everything a little rockier” for the district, which is taking online classes because of the coronavirus pandemic, said Christy Perry, superintendent of public schools in Salem-Keizer.

The school district has approximately 41,000 students. Perry told KPTV that student lives were mostly affected by smoke. Some employees had to evacuate, she said.

“I told my counseling children a few times today as if everything was okay,” said teacher Macy Bowser. “Everything will work out.”

Exhausted firefighters sing together after a 14-hour shift against Oregon forest fires
Until then, the firefighters will work tirelessly to contain the 26 flames in Oregon.

In The Dalles, Oregon, crews fell exhausted to the ground after a 14-hour day fighting the Lionshead fire. They gathered the energy to sing a parody of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” together, with the lyrics used for fire fighting, said crew chief Theodore Hiner.

With the fires on an unprecedented scale, some residents worked to save their own homes.

Darren Richardson ignored evacuation orders as the Beachie Creek Fire neared its neighborhood, reported CNN subsidiary KATU. He managed to save his house, but most of the city was on fire.

“My house is still there, my whole block is there because we went up there and fought it,” Richardson told KATU. “I was there, I saw the city burn down, I was there for 14 hours and tried to put it out with other people.”


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