Wildfires have now claimed 25 lives in California, Oregon and Washington

Wildfires have now claimed 25 lives in California, Oregon and Washington

"There are going to be a number of fatalities, folks who just couldn't get warning in time and evacuate their homes and get to safety", state Emergency Management Director Andrew Phelps told MSNBC late Friday.

More than 40,000 Oregonians have already been evacuated, and about 500,000 are in zones that may be evacuated as the fires continue to grow.

More than 20,000 firefighters from across the United States are battling sprawling deadly wildfires up and down the west coast as the arrival of cooler weather offered hope of a respite.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown said on Friday more than 40,000 people had been evacuated from their homes since the fires began, while almost 500,000 residents were under three different evacuation alert levels.

As of Friday afternoon about 500,000 people in OR were on notice to be ready to flee advancing flames, and crews picked through the smoldering rubble of destroyed homes in search of fatalities.

Back in OR, evacuation centres were open across the state.

"Right now, our air quality ranks the worst in the world due to these fires", Brown said Friday. To prevent the virus from spreading behind bars, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation began releasing prisoners on July 1 who had 180 days or fewer left on their sentences - including inmates participating in the conservation camp program.

"The wind laid down quite a bit for us yesterday". The smoke helped blocked the sun, reducing temperatures and raising humidity, officials said.

Nearly 500 firefighters were working on the fires near Portland, which were just a few miles (kilometres) apart. If the fires merge, they could generate enough heat to send embers thousands of feet into the air, potentially igniting other areas.

The high number of fires occurring simultaneously in the span of just a few days in OR was fueled by dry conditions, high temperatures and especially strong, swirling winds.

Since the start of the year, California wildfires have burned more than 3.2 million acres, an area that's larger than the state of CT, according to Cal Fire.

OR officials haven't released an exact death count for the wildfires, but at least five fatalities have been reported in the state.

A one-year-old boy was also killed in Washington state this week.

A donation drop-off and pick-up station set up by volunteers is seen at an evacuation site in Happy Valley, Oregon, on Friday.

"The excuse of climate change can not be used to deflect from the fundamental failure to address the fuels build-up in our forests that are the cause of these devastating fires", they said in a statement. Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland declared a state of emergency Thursday night, and residents of Molalla, about 30 miles to the south, packed highways as they fled from the approaching fires. A police auto rolled through the streets with a loudspeaker blaring "evacuate now". Conditions were so risky that some county firefighters were told to temporarily stand down, in what fire officials said was a "tactical pause" allowing them to reposition themselves and reassess the situation. "Let me assure you that we have the Oregon National Guard and Oregon State Police monitoring the situation and preventing looting".

PHOTO: TOPSHOT - A charred swing set and vehicle are seen after the passage of the Santiam Fire in Gates, Oregon, on September 10, 2020.

A day after a delegation of OR lawmakers sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking for disaster assistance, he approved the state's emergency declaration.

In southern OR, police arrested a 42-year-old man on Friday for starting a fire in the town of Phoenix, the Jackson County Sheriff's office said.

In Washington, fires burned more than 600,000 acres and resulted in the death of a 1-year-old boy who was fleeing the flames with his parents, authorities said. Authorities said the man denied starting the fire.

As wildfires continue to rage across three states, police investigated separate incidents near existing wildfires.

PHOTO: Damaged homes and cars are seen in a mobile home park destroyed by fire, September 10, 2020, in Phoenix, Ore. She told her four children to close their eyes as they made their escape.

"I'm going to start all over again".

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee called the blazes "climate fires" rather than wildfires.

The Oregon blazes tore through at least five communities in the Cascade mountain range as well as areas of coastal rainforest normally spared from wildfires.

"This is not an act of God", Inslee said.

"The science is clear, and deadly signs like these are unmistakable - climate change poses an imminent, existential threat to our way of life", Biden said in a statement.