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Oregon fall firestorms cautionary tale in worsening drought

A road sign is seen through a melted gas station placard in Blue River, Ore., on May 17, 2021....
A road sign is seen through a melted gas station placard in Blue River, Ore., on May 17, 2021. Blue River, an unincorporated community along the McKenzie River east of Eugene, Oregon, was one of many places in western Oregon devastated last fall during a 72-hour firestorm. Oregon's unprecedented 2020 wildfire burned 4,000 homes and more than 1 million acres, many of them in rainy areas of the state that aren't normally associated with extreme wildfire. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)(Gillian Flaccus | AP)
Updated: Jun. 4, 2021 at 8:54 AM MDT
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OTIS, Ore. (AP) — Unprecedented wildfires in Oregon destroyed more than 4,000 homes and raged through more than 1 million acres in a hellish 72 hours last fall. The flames hit places accustomed to fire.

They also ravaged a coastal village tucked into temperate rainforest, crept within 30 miles of Portland and scorched the rainy western part of the state, where fire is rarely a threat.

Drought in the U.S. West has made Oregon even drier this year, and experts say the state’s recent experience is a taste of the future as climate change makes destructive blazes more likely in the lush Pacific Northwest.

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