SALEM, Ore. — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown says “dozens of people” are missing from the large wildfires that have burned across the state.
Brown made the announcement at a news briefing Friday afternoon, and said the reports of missing people come from blazes in southern Oregon near Medford and the northern part of the state near the state capital of Salem.
At least four wildfire deaths of have been reported in Oregon.
Hundreds of firefighters, aided by helicopters dropping fire retardant and water, battled two large wildfires Friday that threatened to merge near the most populated part of Oregon, including the suburbs of Portland.
The number of people ordered to evacuate statewide because of fires rose to an estimated 500,000 — more than 10% of the state’s 4.2 million people, the Oregon Office of Emergency Management reported late Thursday.
The Oregon Convention Center in Portland was among the buildings being transformed into shelters for evacuees. Portland, shrouded in smoke from the fires, on Friday had the worst air quality of the world’s major cities, according to IQAir.
Gov. Kate Brown said Thursday that more than 1,400 square miles (3,600 square kilometers) have burned in Oregon over the past three days, nearly double the land that burns in a typical year in the state and an area greater than the size of Rhode Island.