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Wildfires in US state of Oregon 'unprecedented,' says Kiwi helping battle blazes

Record blazes have scorched nearly 5 million acres across America’s west, with a Kiwi helping battle fires in Oregon - its new epicentre - calling the situation in the state "quite unprecedented." 

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The record blazes have scorched nearly five million acres across America's west. Source: 1 NEWS

CO Fire Aviation owner Chris Doyle said their “main role” in helping with the country’s wildfire response is the “initial attack,” where the aerial firefighting company “get the fires while they’re small and put them out".

"We've basically done, probably, at least four or fivefold the amount we did last year and that's still not over yet,” he told 1 NEWS.

His journey towards becoming a pilot began at the age of 14 growing up on a farm just out of Ashburton, where he learned to fly.

Doyle started his company five years ago with a single plane in Colorado. It now boasts 14 different aircraft in Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California, Oregon and Washington.

Some of the planes are helping fight the ongoing battle in California. 

“Up in Oregon there, in the last few days, it's quite unprecedented what we've been seeing up there,” he said.

“There's going to be a fair bit of loss of life. It's a really bad situation up there at the moment.”

Search and rescue crews are today combing through neighbourhoods left in blackened ruins in Phoenix.

One in 10 people in the state have been asked to evacuate as smoke grounds planes.

“Last couple of days we've been struggling,” Doyle said.

“We can handle a lot of wind and turbulence and airplanes are designed and the pilots are trained to deal with that when the fire's active, but when the smoke sets in and you can't see - you can't see. We're waiting for that to clear.”

The wildfires are still weeks away from reaching their peak.