A teenager found clinging to his pet dog and a baby boy are among at least 33 people found dead as wildfires continue ripping along the west coast of the United States.
The infant, named Uriel, died as his parents Jake and Jamie Hyland became trapped by flames after evacuating their property in rural Okanogan in Washington state.
Both parents – including his pregnant mother – suffered severe burns and internal injuries, with doctors unable to say if the couple would make a full recovery.
The tragedy is among dozens of heartbreaking stories emerging from California, Oregon and Washington, where wildfires have decimated thousands of homes and entire towns in recent days.
It comes as Australia prepares for its looming bushfire season, which authorities warn is expected to be a challenging one following a dry and hot year.
And if the horror unfolding in the US is a sign of what’s to come, Australians ought to start preparing.
At least 33 people have died in wildfires since mid-August – 22 in California and 10 in Oregon.
In one devastating scene in Oregon, the body of a 13-year-old boy was found cuddling his dog in a car where they had tried to hide from the flames.
The boy has since been identified as Wyatt Tofte.
His grandmother Peggy Mosso, 71, was killed by the same wildfires in Marion County, a family spokesperson said.
“After a long search for Wyatt, he was found in a car with his dog on his lap, but unfortunately, was not able to escape the fire,” said a family statement to CNN.
“Angie (his mother) is in critical condition with full-body burns.”
There were 38 actives fires burning in Oregon as of Sunday morning, according to the state’s office of emergency management website.
Meanwhile in California, tens of thousands of firefighters were battling 28 major wildfires as of Saturday morning, US time.
Thankfully, a fresh change of calmer winds and cooler air has allowed crews to make some gains over most of the blazes.
More than 4000 homes and other structures have been incinerated in California alone over the past three weeks.
Three million acres of land have been burned in the state, according to the state’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
US President Donald Trump said he will meet local and federal officials on Monday near the California state capital of Sacramento.
The president has said western governors – who are all Democrats – were partially to blame for the region’s aggressive fire seasons in recent years, accusing them of engaging in poor forest management.
Dozens of people are still missing, and authorities are warning of mass fatalities as the largest firestorms on record torch the coastal states.
As a result of the flames, residents in all three states are breathing in some of the world’s worst air quality levels.
Paradise, a town in California, posted the world’s worst air quality index reading at 592, according to the PurpleAir monitoring site, as two of the state’s largest blazes burned on either side of it.
The devastation in the US is a grim warning for Australia, where many are still trying to recover from catastrophic bushfires earlier this year.
The Bureau of Meteorology has predicted the remainder of September is likely to be warmer than average across most of Australia.
That trend is expected to continue from October to December, with days likely to be warmer than average across northern Australia, and the far south-east.
Former NSW fire chief Greg Mullins says the wildfires ravaging the US are a 'direct reflection' of what happened in Australia last summer, and serve as another 'wake up call' to pay attention to climate change.#ClimateEmergency https://t.co/miFyG9wICU via @SBSNews
— Lillibet Marie (@lillibet_marie) September 12, 2020