Dozens of extreme, wind-driven fires burned through forests and towns on the West Coast of the United States on Thursday, killing at least 16 people, forcing half a million to evacuate in Oregon alone, and destroying hundreds of homes, authorities said. Al Jazeera quotes a spokeswoman for Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management as saying late in the evening that some 500,000 people, about an eighth of the state’s total population, had been told to leave their homes. Thousands more were displaced north and south in the neighbouring states of Washington and California and including eight California fire deaths last month, the region’s reported death toll for this year is now at least 16.