Hundreds of firefighters battled two large wildfires Friday that threatened to merge near the most populated part of Oregon, including the suburbs of Portland, and the governor said dozens of people are missing in other parts of the state.
READ MORE: Huge swaths of America’s West Coast are ablaze or in cinders as more than 100 wildfires raged largely uncontrolled late Friday from California to Washington state and beyond, incinerating entire towns and killing at least 24 people.
More than 500,000 people in Oregon — more than 10% of its population — remained under some level of evacuation protocol as fires in the state destroyed thousands of homes and burned hundreds of thousands of hectares. The Oregon Convention Center in Portland has been transformed into a shelter for evacuees. Many evacuees have simply taken refuge in their cars in large parking lots.
“We are preparing for a mass fatality incident based on what we know and the numbers of structures that have been lost,” said Andrew Phelps, director of the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.
In southern Oregon, an apocalyptic scene of burned residential subdivisions and trailer parks stretched for kilometers along a highway, a scene mirrored in parts of California.