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Oregon fires: Oregon authorities fight for conspiracy theories as firefighters fight flames

Several fires in Washington, Oregon and California have destroyed more than 4.7 million acres and killed at least 34 people.

Law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, have cracked down on conspiracy theories that Antifa extremists set fire to and cut power lines, Clackamas County, Oregon Sheriff Craig Roberts said Wednesday.

“Every single tip that comes in, we follow it to the end,” Roberts said, but investigators typically find that tipsters’ information came “from a friend to a friend,” who has no evidence. In one case, Roberts said a group reportedly storing gas tanks in the woods to start fires were in fact “Good Samaritans”

; who helped move fuel to rescue workers.

There are legitimate concerns about fires, Roberts said. Fifteen people have been arrested in connection with looting in evacuation zones – none with extremist ties, he said. He also reiterated that it is illegal for individuals to set up their own armed checkpoints.

“We do not want armed citizens to stop people wrong,” he said.

Governor says fires are a sign of climate change

Fires are coming on the heels of California’s hottest August in state history, and Gavin Newsom’s government said Wednesday that climate change is to blame.

“The basic facts cannot be denied,” Newsom said. “The trend lines are not going in the right direction.”

Opinion: This is the climate choice
The governor’s comments come just two days after President Donald Trump refused to acknowledge the effects of the climate crisis on state forest fires during a visit to California, where he joined Newsom on a tour of a wildly ravaged area.

Newsom said Wednesday that he “directly confronted the president” about climate change – although a video of the press briefing from earlier in the week shows a milder exchange between leaders.

“I think there is a way to approach people and good people can disagree,” Newsom said. “And I maintain that we are making progress, and to the extent that we are being heard, I think we are.”

He said, however, that he did not expect Trump to “radically change course”.

“I will continue to be stubborn, as I imagine he will be too, it’s not a belief system, it’s data,” he said. “Science. You have to acknowledge facts.”

A bulldozer digs a fire mine while a Cal Fire aircraft drops phos-check near a 110-acre fire from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

California ‘ripe for forest fires’

The August Complex Fire is the largest in California history after consuming more than 817,000 acres and continues to burn. And with a warming trend returning over the weekend, authorities said it is unlikely to go anywhere soon.

“With no significant rainfall in sight, California remains dry and ripe for forest fires,” Cal Fire said.

The state saw the impact of the recent drought last month when an extreme heat wave triggered a rash of fires. The 136 million trees who did not survive that lack of rainfall acted as “turned on” said Newsom.

In this round of flames, thousands of buildings have been destroyed. One of them was Brian Merzoian’s dream house.

“It’s devastating,” he told CNN-affiliated KFSN. “You just realize that your place is literally reduced to ashes, and everything that was in it, there is really nothing that can be recognized. I could see the stove survived, but that’s what it’s about.

But in Northern California, smoke conditions and visibility are improving, according to the Bay Area Office of the National Weather Service.

“There’s still smoke in parts of northern and inner #California, but parts of the #SanFrancisco area are FINALLY seeing blue skies – and it’s not taken for granted,” the office tweeted.

Workers continue to repair electrical system after flames from Beachie Creek Fire burned through Fishermen's Bend Recreation Site in Mill City, Oregon.

School resumes as the Oregon fight continues

Oregon also sees parts of returning to normalcy with schools starting in the capital Salem after fire delays, according to CNN-affiliated KPTV.

Forest fires have made “everything a little more rocky” for the district that goes into online instruction because of the coronavirus pandemic, Salem-Keizer Public Schools Superintendent Christy Perry said.

The school district has about 41,000 students. Perry told KPTV that students’ lives were mostly affected by smoke. Some employees were forced to evacuate, she said.

“I told my counseling kids this a few times today, as if it would all be fine,” said teacher Macy Bowser. “It all works out.”

Exhausted firefighters sing along after a 14-hour shift fighting fires in Oregon
But until then, the fire department is working relentlessly to contain the 26 fires in Oregon.

In The Dalles, Oregon, crews collapsed with exhaustion on the ground after a 14-hour day battling the Lionshead fire. They mustered the energy to sing together a parody of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” using firefighting expressions for the lyrics, said crew chief Theodore Hiner.

With the fire on an unprecedented scale, some residents worked to save their own homes.

Darren Richardson ignored evacuation orders as the Beachie Creek fire closed into his neighborhood, CNN-affiliated KATU reported. He was able to save his home, but most of the city burned.

“My house is still there, my whole block is there because we went up there and fought against it,” Richardson told KATU. “I’ve been there, I saw the city burn down, I was there for 14 hours and tried to lay it out with other people.”

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