Wildfires in Oregon drives tens of thousands from their homes

The mayor of Portland declared a state of emergency and new satellite images show the entire West Coast in thick smoke.
4:22 | 09/11/20

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Transcript for Wildfires in Oregon drives tens of thousands from their homes
We begin tonight with the emergency unfolding as we come on the air. 500,000 Americans have now been put on alert. Many already evacuated. Hundreds of homes destroyed. The death toll rising. Smoke obscuing the sun for 1,000 miles. Three American cities with the worst air quality in the world. Three dozen fires burning in Oregon. All of them barely contained at this hour, dozens of people missing. Now emergency evacuations widening. 1 in 10 people in that state alone on alert to move. These fires now threatening the suburbs of Portland. The city of talent, Oregon, nearly wipe off the map, and in California, several fires now merging into one. At least 12 lives already lost in that state. Families, some just learning that their home is still handing but so many learning their home is gone, comforting one another in their loss. We cannot forget the firefighters who have been at this for so many days now. Tonight, word coming in of an arrest. How one of these fires might have started. Matt Gutman leading us off from Oregon again tonight. Reporter: Tonight, 500,000 people, 10% of Oregon's entire population, in evacuation Zones. We had a neighbor who called us kind of hysterically screaming. Reporter: As the flames bore down, they scooped up their sister's children, dog. You literally left in a swim suit. In a swim suit. Kid had pajamas. We just got in and left. Reporter: She drove into the bloom following the taillights piercing the smoke. So many on the move they clawed the danger zone. We have been out here three hours and this traffic has not changed a bit. Reporter: Creeping dangerously close to Portland's sub suches. Life threatening emergency. You need to evacuate. Reporter: At least 8,000 people here ordered to evacuate. New satellite images show the entire west coast buried under thick smoke. Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco, the three major cities with the worst air quality in the world. The death toll rising tonight. At least 17 people killed across three states. Craft's north complex fire claiming at least ten lives. 16 people still missing. California's governor touring the staggering devastation today. The debate is over around climate change. Just come to the state of California. Observe it with your own eyes. It's not an intellectual debate. It's not even debatable. Reporter: A single fire destroying 750,000 acres, making it the largest in state history. Back in Oregon, Emma and Libby were ready to pack up the car can dogs boon and axle inside. But the combination of covid and now these fires finally hitting . You're tearing up a little bit. Yeah. Why in. It's their senior year. Kids worked so hard on their senior year. They don't have anything. Just unbelievable what these families are going through. Look at the scene behind Matt Gutman tonight. He's live in se LEM, Oregon. We know tens of thousands a people have been forced from their homes and I know you just learned about an arson arrest tonight. Reporter: That's right, David. That suspect arrested in the Medford, area. That's where 600 homes burn to the ground. He faces six counts of arresten and a possible murderer charge as the western half of Oregon is smothered in this smog. It has been raining ash here. The visibility is near zero. You can barely make out that church behind me and the air quality is twice the amount that's capable to breathe. That image says it all. That's the scene playing out in several states in the west. Matt, our thanks to you and the team again tonight.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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