Based on initial casualty reports, the governor said on Wednesday that a freakish outbreak of terrible, wind-driven Wildfires in Oregon, California have destroyed five small towns, marking a potentially high death toll in their emergence.

A lightning-sparked holocaust, hundreds of miles away in northern California caused three fatalities, that roared back to life with higher severity this week after firefighters had made significant progress to counter it.

While more than two dozen major blazes continued to wreak havoc across wide swaths of California, the neighboring state of Oregon bore the latest brunt of wildfires plaguing much of the western United States over the past week.

Winds of up to 50 miles per hour (80 kilometers per hour) sent flames racing tens of miles within hours, engulfing hundreds of homes as firefighters fought at least 35 large blazes across areas of Oregon roughly equal to nearly twice the size of New York City.

Several Oregon communities, including the town of Detroit in the Santiam Valley, as well as Blue River and Vida in coastal Lane County, and Phoenix and Talent in southern Oregon, were substantially destroyed, Governor Kate Brown told a news conference.

“This could be the greatest loss in human lives and property due to wildfire in our state's history,” Brown said, without providing details.

Brown described rescue teams saving evacuees by pulling them from rivers where they took refuge from flames.

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