Four people have been killed by raging forest fires in Oregon state and dozens are reported missing. Half a million residents have been told to evacuate from threatened areas by authorities, and state Governor Kate Brown said almost a million acres have been scorched.
Efforts to fight wildfires in Oregon have been hobbled as all of the state National Guard’s heavy-lift helicopters have been sent abroad.
The six CH-47 Chinooks and 60 troops of the Oregon National Guard were deployed to Afghanistan in May, two months after the Pentagon began pulling troops out of the central Asian country following a peace deal with the Taliban.
That leaves the force with four smaller UH-60 Black Hawk and one UH-72 Lakota, Vice reported.
The Oregon National Guard CH-47s can be fitted with 2,000-gallon ‘Bambi’ firefighting buckets capable of dowsing 100 metres of burning forest.
Each giant twin-rotor helicopter can carry a payload of 10 tonnes, four times as much as the UH-60 and five times the UH-72’s capacity.
Oregon is one of a dozen US states currently battling wildfires. Authorities ordered the evacuation of half a million residents this week – 10 per cent of the state’s population.Oregon Governor Kate Brown said 900,000 acres of land had been burnt and dozens of people have been reported missing.
As of Friday a total of 23 people had been reported killed in the blazes across the US. Four of those were in Oregon, including 13-year-old boy Wyatt Tofte and his grandmother Peggy Mosso, who died with their dog in the family car. Wyatt’s father Chris Tofte found the boy’s mother Angie Mosso and another man alive but with severe burns.