(Reuters) – Search and rescue crews using dogs combed through neighborhoods left in blackened ruins by massive wildfires burning across three states on Saturday, and U.S. President Donald Trump said he would travel to California to see the devastation first-hand.
Flames have destroyed thousands of homes and a half dozen small towns in the latest outbreak of wildfires that have raged across the western United States this summer, scorching a landscape the size of New Jersey and killing at least 26 people since early August.
But after four days of brutally hot, windy weather, the weekend brought calmer winds blowing inland from the Pacific Ocean, and cooler, moister conditions that helped crews make headway against blazes that had burned unchecked earlier in the week.
At least six people have been killed this week in Oregon, according to the state’s wildfire tracking website. Governor Kate Brown has said that dozens of people remained missing across three counties.
In California, tens of thousands of firefighters were battling 28 major wildfires as of Saturday afternoon, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Improving weather conditions had helped them gain a measure of containment over most of the blazes.
The White House said Trump, a Republican, will meet with California officials on Monday. The president has said that western governors bear some of the blame for intense fire seasons in recent years, accusing them of poor forest management.
Trump’s Democratic opponent in the November election, Joe Biden, on Saturday linked the conflagrations to climate change, echoing comments made a day earlier by California Governor Gavin Newsom.