'I'm waiting for the four horsemen to ride down my street'
THE devastation and pollution affecting large parts of the west coast of the USA have been described as "impossible to believe" by a Northern Rivers woman living in the area.
Musician Essie Thomas has been living in California for the last two years, and is currently in Oakland, at the opposite side of San Francisco.
Unprecedented levels of pollution and a general warning for the millions of people living in the area to be ready to flee have been the most shocking realisations for Mrs Thomas.
"It was raining ash on Friday," she said on Friday.
"We have the lights on because the sky is dark and an orange glow is all we have of the day that should be in its place.
"I'm waiting for the four horsemen to casually ride down my street … (it's) 10:45am and it feels like dawn is breaking," she said.
The Nimbin-raised artist and former Mullumbimby resident said she was in the USA for last year's bushfires across the Northern Rivers and other parts of Australia.
"I have a really good idea of what happened there, because as soon I realised things were getting so bad, I just dropped everything and kept watching what was going on in Australia," she said.
"It was really hard for me to be so far away."
"This is so similar: it's eerie, our air quality levels go from good to risky to hazardous … we've had fires 30k away from here, and we live in a pretty suburban, metropolitan area. This is impossible to believe."
"It got very real for me when the California Governor (Gavin Newson) told every person in the state to be ready to leave their home."
Ninety-seven large fires have burned more than 6,200 square miles (almost 400,000 acres) across the western states, the National Interagency Fire Center said Saturday.
By Sunday, at least 28 people have died and hundreds of homes have been destroyed in the fires.
This fire season, more than 6,300 structures have been damaged or destroyed, and nearly 5,000 square miles have been burned, according to Cal Fire.