The fires that have raged for several weeks in the western United States are so powerful that the smoke they emit has spread to Europe, the European Copernicus service warned on Wednesday. The giant forest fires are likely to be further fueled in the coming days by strong winds expected in California.
It’s a first. The “unsurpassed” fires that have swept the western United States for several weeks are so powerful that the smoke from them manages to cross the Atlantic and reach Europe, the service said on Wednesday (September 16). European Copernicus. The situation may continue as strong winds are expected in California.
Since launching its satellite observations in 2003, the European Copernicus Climate Change Service had never recorded data of this magnitude. The activity for these “unsurpassed” fires is, according to the organization, “tens to hundreds of times more intense” than average.
Unmatched amounts of carbon have already been released into the atmosphere. And the smoke, especially dense, passed over the whole country and the Atlantic.
About 8,000 kilometers remaining
“The fact that these fires emit so much pollution into the atmosphere that we can still see thick smoke 8,000 km away reflects how devastating they are in terms of scale and duration,” Mark Parrington, a researcher at Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring, said in a press release on Wednesday. Service.
Most of the smoke is concentrated on the west coast of the United States, where air quality in the major California cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco, or those further north of Portland (Oregon) and Seattle (Washington State)), is currently among the worst in the world.
For several days it has been classified as “unhealthy”, even locally dangerous, by local authorities and some are beginning to worry about the health effects of such exposure to vapors.
More than 7,600 fires have already been registered
More than 17,000 firefighters, exhausted by their Sisyphean fight against the flames since mid-August, are hard at work in California, the most affected state with about 25 major eruptions.
And Governor Gavin Newsom warned on Wednesday of the Santa Ana winds, strong and loaded with hot, dry air, which is expected over California in the coming days and could exacerbate an already tense situation.
The state has already registered more than 7,600 fires this year, compared to less than 5,000 throughout 2019, and the forest fire season traditionally lasts until November, GavinNewsom recalls.
One of these fires, Bobcat Fire, threatened to engulf the historic Mount Wilson Observatory near Los Angeles, but firefighters were able to immediately avert the danger.
At least 30 dead
The fires in the American West have killed at least 30 people in California and Oregon. In total, more than 2 million hectares have already gone up in smoke and tens of thousands of people have been forced to evacuate their homes, hundreds of which have been reduced to ashes.
This is the case with Eraida Roda’s wooden house, where she lived for a dozen years with her husband and four children in Talent, southern Oregon. All that is left today is the metal construction of the floor, the charred carcass of a child’s bicycle and small animal statues.
“It’s like I lost all the effort our family made, I feel empty and worried,” she told AFP, sobbing in her voice.
The fires that are increasing across the planet are associated with various phenomena that scientists expect due to climate change: in particular, rising temperatures and declining rainfall.
>> Also read: “Fires: Why the US West Coast is Burning at This Point”
For Biden, Trump is a “climate burner”
In less than two months of the presidential election, the fires, which have already caused billions of dollars in damage, have entered the campaign.
President Donald Trump visited California on Monday, where he sparked controversy by seeming to deny the role of climate change in these extraordinary fires, largely because of him to poor “forest management.” His Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, who will meet him at the November 3 vote, has repeated him as a “climate burner”.
Without naming him, Governor Newsom, who spoke with President Trump earlier this week, said he had “no more patience for those who deny the existence of climate change.”