Capital Weather Gang

Photos: A heat wave and dry winds fuel fires in the West

Wildfires have broken out across much of the West, including a fast-moving blaze that burned most of the small town of Malden, Wash. As of Friday, at least 28 large fires were underway in California. The wildfires up and down the West Coast were spurred by a hot, dry weather pattern, along with unseasonably widespread and strong winds blowing from land to sea. The dry winds came right after a record-shattering heat wave dried out vegetation, making it ideal fuel for new fires. Studies show that human-caused climate change is making such heat waves more intense and frequent, and it is increasing wildfire risks in the West.

Mason Trinca/For The Washington Post

So far this season, fires have burned more than 3.1 million acres in California, the most of any season. Five of the state’s top 20 largest fires are currently burning. Here’s a look at the fires currently plaguing California, Oregon and Washington.

Mason Trinca/For The Washington Post

Sept. 11, 2020 | Talent, Ore.

Pink fire retardant covers a car in an area destroyed by the Almeda Fire.

John Locher/AP

John Locher/AP

Sept. 11, 2020 | Talent, Ore.

A man walks through a neighborhood destroyed by the Almeda Fire.

John Locher/AP

John Locher/AP

Sept. 11, 2020 | Medford, Ore.

Pigeons are silhouetted by the sun in the sky, which is tinted orange from wildfire smoke.

David Ryder/Getty Images

David Ryder/Getty Images

Sept. 10, 2020 | Phoenix, Ore.

Kimberly Flores wipes her tears next to her neighbor, Adrianna Cambell, at Coleman Creek Estates.

Mason Trinca/For The Washington Post

Mason Trinca/For The Washington Post

Sept. 10, 2020 | Phoenix, Ore.

Over 600 hundreds homes were destroyed in Phoenix and Talent as erratic winds and heat waves fueled wildfires around the West Coast.

Mason Trinca/For The Washington Post

Mason Trinca/For The Washington Post

Sept. 10, 2020 | Mountain Home Village, Calif.

A firefighter works to protect homes from the El Dorado Fire inside the San Bernardino National Forest.

Kyle Grillot for The Washington Post

Kyle Grillot for The Washington Post

Sept. 10, 2020 | Mountain Home Village, Calif.

Firefighters work to protect homes from the El Dorado Fire inside the San Bernardino National Forest.

Kyle Grillot for The Washington Post

Kyle Grillot for The Washington Post

Sept. 9, 2020 | Oroville, Calif.

A boat motors past the Bidwell Bar Bridge over Lake Oroville as fire burns nearby.

Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Sept. 9, 2020 | Butte County, Calif.

A hand crew works to save a home as the Bear Fire burns through the Berry Creek area.

Noah Berger/AP

Noah Berger/AP

Sept. 9, 2020 | Butte County, Calif.

Flames shoot from a home in the Berry Creek area.

Noah Berger/AP

Noah Berger/AP

Sept. 9, 2020 | Forest Falls, Calif.

Wind blows embers from a burning utility pole during the El Dorado Fire in the San Bernardino National Forest.

Kyle Grillot for The Washington Post

Kyle Grillot for The Washington Post

Sept. 9, 2020 | Mountain Home Village, Calif.

A group of inmate firefighters watch as the El Dorado Fire burns a hillside near homes inside the San Bernardino National Forest.

Kyle Grillot for The Washington Post

Kyle Grillot for The Washington Post

Sept. 9, 2020 | San Francisco

People shop at a farmers market near City Hall around noon.

Nick Otto for The Washington Post

Nick Otto for The Washington Post

Sept. 9, 2020 | San Francisco

A pedestrian crosses the street near City Hall in the afternoon.

Nick Otto for The Washington Post

Nick Otto for The Washington Post

Sept. 9, 2020 | Medford, Ore.

Jario Gomez and his son, Adriel Gomez, 2, sit under the shade at an evacuation center at the Jackson County Expo.

Mason Trinca for The Washington Post

Mason Trinca for The Washington Post

Sept. 9, 2020 | Phoenix, Ore.

Brianna Delfin left, and her children, Noah Delfin, 2, and Adaline Delfin, 3, stand in front the rubble of their home at Coleman Creek Estates.

Mason Trinca for The Washington Post

Mason Trinca for The Washington Post

“Extreme fire weather is becoming more frequent with climate change, and will continue to do so into the future,” Michael Goss, a postdoctoral research fellow in Earth system science at Stanford University, told The Washington Post.

Mason Trinca for The Washington Post

Sept. 8, 2020 | Salem City, Ore

A photo first posted on social media of a fire in Salem.

Zak Stone via Reuters

Zak Stone via Reuters

Sept. 8, 2020 | Eugene, Ore.

Ryan Warren takes a picture from the top of Skinner Butte as smoke clogs the sky from wildfires burning in the state.

Chris Pietsch/Register-Guard/AP

Chris Pietsch/Register-Guard/AP

Sept. 8, 2020 | Mansfield, Wash.

A local man runs a tractor to carve out an impromptu fire line as the Pearl Hill fire moves closer.

Tyler Tjomsland/Spokesman-Review/AP

Tyler Tjomsland/Spokesman-Review/AP

Sept. 8, 2020 | Shaver Lake, Calif.

PG&E troublemen watch as the Creek Fire burns. According to reports, the Creek Fire has burned more than 135,000 acres of forest.

Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Sept. 8, 2020 | Fresno County, Calif.

A home is engulfed by the Creek Fire in the Tollhouse area.

Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Sept. 8, 2020 | Eugene, Ore.

A message board on Interstate 5 warns drivers that Highway 126 eastbound is closed because of a wildfire.

Chris Pietsch/Register-Guard/AP

Chris Pietsch/Register-Guard/AP

Sept. 7, 2020 | Azwell, Wash.

Flames from the Cold Springs Canyon Pearl Hill wildfire encroach on Wells Dam.

Tyler Tjomsland/Spokesman-Review/AP

Tyler Tjomsland/Spokesman-Review/AP

Sept. 7, 2020 | Shaver Lake, Calif.

Firefighter Nick Grinstead battles the Creek Fire.

Noah Berger/AP

Noah Berger/AP

Sept. 7, 2020 | Madera County, Calif.

Embers fly off burning timber as flames push toward homes during the Creek fire in the Cascadel Woods area of Madera County.

Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Sept. 7, 2020 | Madera County, Calif.

A firefighter battles the Creek Fire as it threatens homes in the Cascadel Woods neighborhood.

Noah Berger/AP

Noah Berger/AP

Sept. 7, 2020 | Madera County, Calif.

Smoke from the Creek Fire envelops trees in the Cascadel Woods community.

Noah Berger/AP

Noah Berger/AP

Sept. 7, 2020 | Shaver Lake, Calif.

Smoke from the Creek Fire engulfs scorched trees surrounding Highway 168 near Shaver Lake in the Sierra National Forest.

Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Sept. 7, 2020 | Shaver Lake, Calif.

Jeremy Hedrick holds his son Jeep as smoke from the Creek Fire fills the air in a marina, where campers were being held because roads had become impassable.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Sept. 7, 2020 | Shaver Lake, Calif.

A dog stands atop bags and camping gear, packed behind a buggy, during preparations for evacuation from the Creek Fire.

Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Sept. 7, 2020 | Duarte, Calif.

The sun is seen behind smoke from the Bobcat Fire rising above in the Angeles National Forest.

Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Sept. 6. 2020 | Jamul, Calif.

A brush fire encroaches along Japatul Road during the Valley Fire that burned 4,000 acres overnight.

Sandy Huffaker/AFP/Getty Images

Sandy Huffaker/AFP/Getty Images

Sept. 6. 2020 | Jamul, Calif.

San Miguel County Firefighters battle a brush fire along Japatul Road during the Valley Fire.

Sandy Huffaker/AFP/Getty Images

Sandy Huffaker/AFP/Getty Images

Sept. 6, 2020 | Shaver Lake, Calif.

Fresno County Sheriff's Deputy Jeffery Shipman stands along Highway 168 as the Creek Fire burns nearby.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Sept. 6, 2020 | Big Creek, Calif.

Members of the Laguna Hotshots, out of the Cleveland National Forest, monitor hot spots while fighting the Creek Fire.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Sept. 6, 2020 | Shaver Lake, Calif.

Firefighter Ricardo Gomez, of a San Benito Monterey Cal Fire crew, sets a controlled burn with a drip torch while fighting the Creek Fire.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Sept. 5, 2020 | Yucaipa, Calif.

The wind whips embers from a tree burned by a wildfire.

Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP

Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP

Sept. 6, 2020 | Shaver Lake, Calif.

A firefighter runs along Highway 168 with a flare as part of a controlled burn to fight the Creek Fire.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Sept. 5, 2020 | Yucaipa, Calif.

An air tanker drops retardant at a wildfire burns on a hillside.

Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP

Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP

These fires have no historical precedent since at least 1910, according to researchers. “The shear amount of fire on the landscape is surreal, and no one I have talked to can remember anything like it," said Nick Nauslar, a meteorologist at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

In Southern California, the typical wildfire season is just beginning.

Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP