Oregon governor calls wildfires a "wake-up call" on climate change

Oregon governor: Wildfires a "wake-up call" on climate change
Oregon governor: Wildfires a "wake-up call" o... 05:55

Washington — Oregon Governor Kate Brown said Sunday the devastating wildfires that continue to rage across the west should be a "wake-up call" for policy makers on the need for action to address climate change.

"This is truly the bellwether for climate change on the West Coast," Brown, a Democrat, said on "Face the Nation." "And this is a wake-up call for all of us that we have got to do everything in our power to tackle climate change."

At least 19 people died this week in Oregon, Washington and California from the wildfires that continue to ravage the western states. In Oregon alone, more than 500,000 people are under an evacuation order, and 40,000 have been forced to leave their homes. More than 1 million acres in the state burned last week alone.

Brown said the cause of the fire remains under investigation, but said the conditions in the state created "the perfect firestorm."

"We saw incredible winds. We saw very cold, hot temperatures. And of course, we have a landscape that has seen 30 years of drought," she said.

A search and rescue team looks for victims in the aftermath of the Almeda fire in Talent, Oregon
A member of a search and rescue team from Salt Lake City, including a canine named Kya, look for victims through gutted homes in the aftermath of the Almeda fire in Talent, Oregon, September 13, 2020. ADREES LATIF / REUTERS

Still, Brown said weather conditions are becoming more stable, allowing firefighters to build containment lines.

Oregon's governor also defended the work of her administration in preparing for devastating wildfires after a former Republican Oregon lawmaker wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that failed leadership and mismanagement, not climate change, have enabled the fires.

"It's decades of mismanagement of our forests in this country, and it is the failure to tackle climate change. We need to do both," she said. "And we can."