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Fires turn deadly in western U.S.

by Lynde Langdon
Posted 9/12/20, 11:02 pm

The mother of 16-year-old Josiah Williams confirmed her son died in the North Complex Fire that blazed through California’s Sierra Nevada mountains this week. As of Saturday, at least 31 people had died in wildfires in California, Oregon, and Washington. Emergency workers expected the death toll to rise sharply as they discovered more bodies in the rubble of burned towns.

How big are the fires? This is California’s worst fire year on record. “It’s a historic season on top of a historic season that replaced a historic season,” said Sean Norman, a battalion chief with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “We just keep setting new precedents, and then we keep destroying them.” In Oregon, fires have torched an area larger than the state of Rhode Island and double the size of what typically burns in a normal year. Cities such as Portland and Salem, Ore., are experiencing their worst air quality in at least 35 years due to heavy smoke.

Dig deeper: Read a local news report about the family of Josiah Williams, who died in a fire in Berry Creek, Calif.

Editor’s note: WORLD has updated this report since its initial posting.

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Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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