Millions of people breathe thick smoke on the American west coast

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Historic drought, high winds, and high temperatures have caused wildfires on the US West Coast to spread through the states of California, Oregon and Washington. Tens of millions of people breathe in smoke-filled air.

Dutchman in Portland: ‘Just not pleasant to live’

Dozens of people are missing and at least 23 others are said to have died as a result of more than 100 different wildfires, writes The Guardian. The Governor of Washington State speaks of “climate fires”.

Residents of Portland, Oregon’s most densely populated region, awoke Friday morning to a thick smoke-filled sky that hangs like a dense fog over not only Portland, but San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles. Regions where tens of millions of people live.

“It is not pleasant to live in Portland, you really cannot go outside”, says NUjij’er Arjan van der Ven. “Sometimes you can barely see a few houses far. The smoke hits your lungs, it tickles your eyes and your clothes stink in the wind for an hour.”

“Our house is a bit older, the smell of the smoke comes in through a few cracks. We have everything that looks like an air filter on. And then it just works.”

State crisis manager Andrew Phelps says local authorities are preparing for a large number of fatalities. More than 40,000 residents have been evacuated. Another 500,000 people are under evacuation order.

Last Tuesday, a 13-year-old boy and his 71-year-old grandmother passed away in Marion County, Oregon. The two were found in their car, the boy with a dog on his lap, writes CNN.

Besides Oregon, California is still one of the hardest hit states. Thousands of buildings and homes have been destroyed. NUjij’er Amnon Salim has lived in the mountains near Santa Cruz for about fifteen years.

“My house and the land around it have just been destroyed by the fires. Pictures often tell more than words,” he says.

The house of NUjij’er Amnon Salim in the mountains of Santa Cruz (Photo: Amnon Salim / Press).

Melted lanterns on the land of NUjij’er Amnon Salim (Photo: Amnon Salim / Press).

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