Extreme heat roasts Christmas trees in Oregon

“This year with that heatwave, I mean, it just wiped 'em out." The recent extreme heat in the pacific northwest didn't just threaten public health - it also affects... Christmas.

Amid the destruction left in the wake of the recent 'heat dome in Oregon, these young Christmas trees – burnt to a crisp.

Jacob Hemphill is the owner of Hemphill Tree Farm.

"The second day of the heat, it was 116. I came in the driveway that night and seen the trees were basically cooking. Burnt down to nothing."

Hemphill estimates that he has lost over $100,000 worth of Christmas trees at his farm in Oregon City as a result of the recent 'heat dome' event, which saw temperatures of 115 degrees in some parts of the Portland metro area.

He says extreme weather like this will have devastating impacts for farmers.

"It'll affect us a lot. I mean, I'm a farmer 365 days a year, that's how I make my income, so if I can't sell Christmas trees, I really don't really put food on the table for my kids. So it's a tough deal."

Beyond Christmas trees, the heat damaged other crops in the region to unprecedented levels. The so-called Bootleg fire has blackened nearly 400,000 acres of desiccated brush and timber.

Scientists have said the growing frequency and intensity of wildfires are largely attributable to prolonged drought and increasing bouts of excessive heat that are symptomatic of climate change.

For Hemphill, the losses will take a toll on his family this year. But he still has a resilient sense of hope. "We got good years. We got bad years. We plant the trees. They die. We replant the trees. Sometimes they die again. You replant em again. That's all you can do. When you're farming, you just do what you gotta do to keep going."

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