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An unprecedented fire season is wreaking havoc across the Western US, with wildfires tearing across multiple states and air quality plummeting. At least 19 people have been killed, with dozens more missing and over 3,000 homes destroyed since the season began. By Friday in Oregon, half a million people were under evacuation orders as two fires threatened to merge and continue rapidly advancing toward Salem and Portland's suburbs. Oregon fires have burned more than 1 million acres, said the state's governor, Kate Brown.
California's wildfires, driven by extreme blazes in August and September, have already burned more acres than any year on record. As of Thursday, there are blazes burning in at least 10 western states, according to the interagency incident information system.
The images and stories coming out of the US west are eerily reminiscent of those experienced by Australians in early 2020.
In January,. The skies turned orange, and smoke blanketed the country's largest cities. Entire cities were flattened. Now, across the Pacific, this grim history is repeating. San Francisco has turned red and orange, smoke blotting out the sun.
There are glimmers of hope, as a . But in a sign of things to come, the fire season is yet to peak, and more of Washington state burned in a 24 hour period this week than in 12 of the last 18 fire seasons.