Firefighters took advantage of a welcome break in hot, dry weather on Saturday to make gains against massive wildfires burning across three western states as US President Donald Trump said he would travel to California to see the devastation first-hand.
Flames have destroyed thousands of homes and at least half a dozen small towns in the latest outbreak of wildfires that have raged across the western United States this summer, collectively scorching a landscape the size of New Jersey and killing at least 26 people since early August.
But after four days of treacherously hot, windy weather, a glimmer of hope arrived in the form of calmer winds blowing in from the ocean, bringing cooler, moister conditions that helped firefighters make headway against blazes that had burned largely unchecked earlier in the week.
At least six people have been killed this week in Oregon, according to the state’s wildfire tracking website, and Governor Kate Brown has warned that dozens of people had been reported missing in three counties.
In California, tens of thousands of firefighters were battling 28 major wildfires as of Saturday morning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Cooler, moister air had allowed crews to gain a measure of containment over most of the blazes.
The White House said Trump, a Republican, will meet on Monday with local and federal officials near the California state capital of Sacramento on Monday.
He has said that western governors bear some of the blame for intense fire seasons in recent years, alleging that they have engaged in poor forest management.