Last week, a rare windstorm swept through Oregon, stoking existing wildfires, sparking new ones, and spreading flames across an unusually dry state. As of Monday, Sept. 14, fires had burned more than 1,400 square miles, killed 10 and displaced thousands. Much of the Willamette Valley, including Portland, is enveloped in smoke from the blazes, leading to hazardous air conditions that in some parts of the state have maxed out the Air Quality Index. Here's what our readers had to say about the historically large fires:

@No_Signal00 via Twitter: "Rhode Island is 1,034 square miles. Keep that in mind for comparison."

Doofus via wweek.com: "Good thing climate change is a hoax like COVID, otherwise we'd be in for trouble."

Conner Williams via Facebook: "Perfect fire conditions caused by temperatures rising every year. Human-accelerated climate change will make these kinds of fires more common and last longer."

@MannyDantyla via Twitter: "This is what I was worried about happening, but I thought it would happen like 20 years from now. Climate change is here."

Kevin Gee via Facebook: "With the knowledge of the high winds coming through, every utility should have shut off lines in high-risk areas, or just altogether. The reason the [Highway] 26 corridor is not on fire is because PGE shut off those lines. It's not like they didn't see this coming."

Brandon K Buell via Facebook: "It's almost like ignoring the knowledge of land stewardship of Indigenous peoples whose land we stole has led to an ecosystem collapse."

Mutie via wweek.com: "So, the governor who convened a group to reform state fire response is to blame, and the legislators who walked out in January and killed the reform are…what, just peachy?"

Lance Boyles via Facebook: "Most of the fires are happening on federal land. Trump just yanked millions from the U.S. Forest Service to fund his stupid wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for. Remember?"

@so_it_goeth via Twitter: "Let's divert some money from the Portland Police Bureau and give it to fire control services. I think 75% would be adequate."

Louise Shurtleff via Facebook: "I have some questions. How much of the forests in Oregon are on federal land? Doesn't the federal government have a responsibility to deal with problems on federal land? Are federally owned lands the financial responsibility of the state in which they exist? If so, why? Most importantly, who is going to pay for what is needed? People want low to no taxes but expect the very best of services provided for them. This is not a political question. It is a question of what is needed and how do we pay for it. You cannot expect any forestry service (state or federal) to work for free and with no budget. We need responsible solutions and not finger pointing and assigning blame."

Ron Bloodworth via Facebook: "Portland and many other places on the West Coast are having an air pollution emergency. The Air Quality Index in Portland is off the chart, meaning that we are all breathing poisoned air. This has been happening for days and this article says it will continue for days to come. Yes, the fires were and are terrible. Yes, many have lost their homes, livelihood, family members and friends. Now the very air we breathe is putting millions more up and down the West Coast at risk of illness and death, but nobody seems to be addressing this crisis. Just wait for rain and for the air to get better, they say. When you can't breathe, you don't have days to wait."

Why capitalize Black but not white?

Why does Latisha Jensen capitalize BLACKS but not WHITES in their columns? If that's not discrimination I don't know what is. Is it major? No. But it's the principle of implying superiority over another class of people. Are we not all equal?

Andre Smith
Northeast Portland

Copy editor Matt Buckingham responds: All writers at Willamette Week now capitalize "Black" but not "white" as a matter of Associated Press style and near-universal industry practice.

CORRECTION
A story in the Sept. 9 edition of WW incorrectly stated there were more cases of shigellosis than COVID-19 in Multnomah County homeless camps. In fact, 46 cases of COVID-19 have been traced to homeless camps and less than 30 cases of shigellosis. WW regrets the error.

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