Latest: Washington governor blames climate change for fires

The Latest on wildfires in the U.S. West (all times local):

3:30 p.m.

SEATTLE — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says the fires devastating California and the Northwest shouldn’t be called wildfires, but “climate fires.”

At a news conference Friday, the Democrat noted that the roughly 980 square miles burned in Washington in just the last five days amounts to the state’s second worst fire season on record, after 2015.

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“This is not an act of God,” Inslee said. “This has happened because we have changed the climate of the state of Washington in dramatic ways.”

Inslee ran for the Democratic presidential nomination on a climate platform and said it’s important to fight the fires not just on the ground, but by creating clean-energy jobs and taking other measures to combat climate change.

Scientists have long said that human-caused climate change would result in hotter temperatures and more extreme weather events, such as droughts, that can increase the frequency and intensity of wildfires.

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1:55 p.m.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Improving weather conditions in California have allowed firefighters to gain ground on wildfires that began as long as three weeks ago.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says 14,800 firefighters are on the lines of 28 major wildfires burning statewide Friday.

Nineteen people have been killed and thousands of structures, including homes, have been destroyed.

Winds that whipped some fires into deadly infernos earlier this week have calmed down and the smoke layer over much of the state is helping to keep temperatures down, although air quality is very bad.

Onshore flow of moist air from the ocean is expected to increase humidity, which helps suppress fire activity.

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1:30 p.m.

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.

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