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More than 100 Fires Burning Across 12 Western State; Oregon Officials Say 500,000 People Forced to Leave Homes; Massive Smoke Cloud Moving Inland; Germany, France to Take in Hundreds of Refugee Children form Lesbos Refugee Camp; Ancient Mexican City Reopens to Tourists; Microsoft: Foreign Hackers Targeting 2020 U.S. Elections; Future of Brexit Talks at Risk Over U.K. Strategy; Remembering Diana Rigg. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired September 11, 2020 - 04:30   ET



NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world, I'm Natalie Allen. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta.

A firestorm of flames continues to sweep across millions of acres on America's West Coast in an unprecedented outbreak of wildfires. At least 28 fires are burning across the state of California, including the largest one in its history. 16 people are currently unaccounted for in one of those fires. Officials have issued evacuation orders and warnings in several areas.

And to the north in Oregon, U.S. President Trump has now approved an emergency declaration. Portland's mayor says fires are raging across more than 3,600 square kilometers. Officials say half a million people in Oregon have been forced to leave their homes. CNN's Lucy Kafanov is on the frontlines in Clackamas County, Oregon and to update us on the desperate firefight.


LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is an incredibly dangerous situation across the state of Oregon, we are in Clackamas County right now, Oregon's third most populous county. Where a lot of the area has been affected by the fires. This specific location is sort of this safety staging areas for the fire crews to be able to stay safe as they figure out the plan for where to go next, which area to target next.

But I can tell you that the residential areas around here are under a mandatory level three evacuation order. That means get out, don't risk your life. This is a very agriculture area. There's a lot of farms with animals, so some folks are choosing to say back, to try protect their homes and save their animals.

But again, officials are warning people not to take any chances, and to get out while they can. Now we heard from the Governor, Kate Brown, she said that 900,000 acres have burned so far in the past 72 hours. That number likely to rise. Just to give you some context, 500,000 acres burned on average in an entire year.

So, this is a historic, unprecedented fire event. The Governor predicting loss of life, loss of structures. The weather conditions that we've had so far with various heavy winds and incredibly dry conditions have made it difficult to begin to contain the fires.

Up until now, the focus has been on evacuating people and trying to protect structures, but officials are hoping for the weather conditions to change over the next few days, so that they will be able to begin to start the process of containing the fires.

This is devastating to the state of Oregon. The resources here are spread incredibly thin. The governor requesting help from the Defense Department as well as the Army Corps of Engineers, the National Guard has been activated as well.

We know that a team is flying from Utah to help the firefighters here, because not only this state, but neighboring Washington, as well as California, battling its own fires as well.

Lucy Kafanov, CNN, Clackamas County, Oregon.


ALLEN: These fires are generating a massive cloud of smoke that can be dangerous to breathe as well. Let's go to our meteorologist Derek Van Dam. Derek, I don't remember when we were talking about this amount of wildfires, the spread here over three states.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it is incredible to see and witness unfolding. It reminds me of the bush fires that happened in Australia last year. But this picture says it all really to me, Natalie. 500,000 people evacuating from this. This is actually one of the mobile home parks in Phoenix, Oregon. As you can see it's just reduced to ashes. That is terrifying. Can you imagine having to leave at a moment's notice your home? You're fleeing from fires that will do damage to buildings and structures like that. And very, very quickly these things are so sporadic, they change on a dime.

Now this is the way this figures from Oregon. We have out of control fires across the state, but the lion's head fire only 5 percent containment with over 125,000 acres burned so far. Lots of poor quality of air across this region. Never in the history of my career have I seen entire states labeled as a high -- poor quality air index and that extends all the way into the central portions of California.

Smoke and haze clearly visible on our satellite taken from 20,000 miles into the sky, into space. We can see the plume of smoke and ash that has generated from these fires since August. And that has degraded the quality of air. And we've located the areas that have some of the very healthy and hazardous air quality alerts in place from Portland, southward into the Mono region across central California.

And a lot of this smoke is going to get lofted up into the upper levels of the atmosphere, carry these through from the jet stream and it could impact places like the Midwest and the East Coast by the second half of the week.


You mentioned it before, but we currently have the largest, the third largest and the fourth largest wildfires in California state's history burning out of control right now. But a little silver lining here. I want to end on a good note. There is hope. We've got rain in the forecast and it's going to help the firefighting effort at least for the Pacific Northwest by the middle of this week -- Natalie.

ALLEN: All right, can wait for that day. Derek, thanks so much. We appreciate it.

Germany and France have agreed to take in some 400 unaccompanied refugee children after a devastating fire at a refugee camp in Greece. The fire destroyed the Moira refugee camp on the island of Lesbos. The largest camp in that country leaving thousands of refugees without any shelter.

Greece now says the fire appears to have been deliberately set after officials forced residents testing positive for COVID-19 to quarantine. That makes it more complicated. Let's discuss it further with CNN's Melissa Bell. She is on Lesbos now. And I know you have talked to these people that suddenly went from barely having a place to live to now no place to live. So tragic.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What little refuge they had, well, this is what's left of it. Let me show you the camp here. That is the main camp here at Moira. Where I'm speaking to you from is one of the main over spill sites. Because what strikes you most about visiting it, beyond the stench of what remains, is the size of it. It's actually tiny. 13,000 people were packed into here and some of them had here, Natalie, for years.

We have been speaking to them these last few days. On the outskirts of this camp where they sought refuge, where they cook on the edge of the streets. And their idea of how the fire here began is very different to the version given by the authorities who have been adamant that it was caused by the migrants. All of those who spoke to us said that would be impossible. For them it was caused by locals.

Although they will probably never know the full truth of exactly what started the fire here at Moira, Natalie. The debate is interesting because it tells us something about the tensions here on this island. And now they're only likely to get worse.

You mentioned there's 406 unaccompanied children. What we've learned now from the authorities here, for the office of migration minister, is that they're the only migrants who are going to be leaving lesbos anytime soon.

The biggest fear of the migrants we spoke to is they would simply relocate -- be relocated to another camp here on the island. The biggest fear of the locals is that might happen as well. That appears to be the case. What a spokesman for the office -- or the migration minister has told us is that one ship has now arrived here in Lesbos, to help temporarily house about 1,000 of these migrants currently living out in the wild around his camp.

And beyond that, beyond those 406, temporary solutions will be found in the immediate but all of the other migrants are going to be kept here because, he said, the Greek government will not be black mailed by what he calls a burn and blow policy. And again, that goes back to the Greek authority's version that this camp was deliberately set by the migrants. They say, that is so.

ALLEN: It is quite a terrible situation. Thank you. We know you'll be there to tell us what happens next, Melissa Bell. Thanks, Melissa.

Next here, a warning about foreign hackers targeting the U.S. election from Microsoft. What the tech giant is saying coming next.



ALLEN: Mexico continues to be one of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus. The Mexican health ministry on Thursday reporting almost 5,000 new cases and more than 550 deaths. That brings its total number of confirmed cases to more than 650,000. And with almost 70,000 deaths it has the world's fourth highest number of fatalities. But in an effort to restart its devastated tourist industry, Mexico on Thursday reopened a majestic ancient city to visitors. CNN's Matt Rivers takes us to the pyramid of sun.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Throughout it's more than 2,000 year existence, centuries of wars, gods, empires, colonizers, tourist, something new this week at the ancient city of Teotihuacan, northeast of Mexico City. Masks, temperature checks, and sanitizer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. The measures they are taking.

RIVERS: One of Mexico's cultural touchstones reopen to the public Thursday, after a COVID-19 base closure in March. Among the new rules, capacity capped at 3,000 visitors per day with safe distancing. Tourist Carla Hernandez says, we are still not in the 100 percent, but in open air it's doable to go out and enjoy a bit.

(on camera): But this reopening is about more than just giving tourist something to do. It's also a sign that Mexico is trying to jumpstart its tourism sector. Consider that in 2018, nearly 9 percent of Mexico's overall GDP came as a result of activity in the tourism industry.

(voice-over): An industry that has been decimated as of late that the Mexico City and Cancun airports the country's busiest. July international arrivals where down by 90, and 84 percent, respectively. The IMF says Mexico's GDP might fall more than 10 percent this year. There's hope that reopening might bring tourists which might bring relief.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But right now, is a good opportunity to start moving around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is why, you know, people are distancing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, stay safe.

RIVERS: Ben, John and Roberto are Americans on a Mexican road trip, their first vacation during the pandemic.

(on camera): Is it weird for you to kind of be out doing things again?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it definitely is to see people again. Yes, it's definitely not the same.

RIVERS: If it were the same, they could climb the fabled steps to the top of the pyramid of the sun where it said climbers receives special energy. But Mexico has more than 650,000 coronavirus cases and counting, safe distance and slim stairs don't match, so they're closed. Any spiritual enlightenment these days will have to come on the ground.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Teotihuacan, Mexico.


ALLEN: A warning from Microsoft about the U.S. presidential election. The company says hackers from Russia, China and Iran are trying to interfere in the race, but are they succeeding? CNN's Donie O'Sullivan has more on Microsoft's statement and what experts are saying about this hacking.


DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN REPORTER: Yes, there's a lot to unpack here in this Microsoft announcement. Microsoft saying that the same Russian hacking group that's tied to Russian military intelligence that broke into Democratic Party here in the U.S. in 2016 has recently tried to hack both national and state parties here in the United States, as well as political consultants working with Republicans and Democrats.

Microsoft also saying that Chinese hackers targeted Vice President Joe Biden's campaign and at least one other person formerly associated with the Trump administration.

And when it comes to Iran, Microsoft is saying that in May and June, Iranian hackers try to log into the accounts of Trump administration officials and Trump campaign staff.


Now it is important to point out here that Microsoft is not saying that these attacks on the campaign specifically were successful, but it's also true that there is probably much more attempts happening on other services, beyond Microsoft.

But what Microsoft described as happening, it does somewhat match what the U.S. intelligence community said. Recently, when they put out a statement saying that Iran, Russia, and China were all seeking to interfere in the 2020 election.

Of course, one of the big fears here is that a situation might play out like what happened in 2016, where Russian hackers broke into Democratic Party emails, Hillary Clinton campaign emails, and then distributed them across the Internet and caused chaos in the final weeks of the election campaign. Back to you.


ALLEN: The future of Brexit talks could be in jeopardy over Britain's plan to override parts of the withdrawal agreement. The European Union has threatened U.K. with legal action, while Germany's ambassador to the country has called the deterioration of talks fast and profound.

Let's get the view from London. Max Foster joins me. And good morning to you, Max. How did we get here?

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's been a long process, Natalie, you've followed it for years like I have. Again, we are getting to another crunch point. And we're looking ahead to the end of the year which is when Britain is meant to start a new relationship with the European Union. And they had this Withdrawal Agreement, which is meant to be the basis of that. That was all signed and sealed. And what Boris Johnson's government is now doing is unpicking that. Which has caused huge amounts of concern around Europe, as you can imagine.

One part of that Withdrawal Agreement addressed the Northern Ireland border. Who has control over which essential services cross the border? Boris Johnson's government is adding an amendment to that. Which effectively will be breaking international law and they've accepted that's the truth because all of this has previously been agreed.

The European Union are pretty furious about this threatening legal action on that. We'll wait to see how that plays out. But as you say, this is a very complex process and there are various negotiations going on at once all of which are intertwined.

And the other main negotiation is meant to be towards a Trade Agreement between the European Union and the U.K. which will effectively define the relationship next year and onwards. Those are limping on, those negotiations. But they could be thrown out by this previous issue that I just described.

So, and the moment we could be heading towards this hard Brexit where there is no deal between the U.K. and EU. But as you know, Natalie, the European Union is pretty famous for going up to the wire on these things and ultimately there tends to be a deal in the end. Let's hope that's the case this time.

ALLEN: One would hope so. All right, thank you so much, Max. Hopefully, you can turn to a different story at some time in the very near future. Thanks.

Just ahead here, we say good-bye to actress Diana Rigg who rose to stardom as a leather clad British spy and ended her career with a memorable farewell in "Game of Thrones."






RIGG: And now the rains weep o'er our holes.


ALLEN: Younger viewer you'll remember that lady right there, Dame Diana Rigg, as Lady Tyrell in the HBO hit series "Game of Thrones." But the English actress had a career that spanned decades. From the British spy series "The Avengers" to James Bond's only wife, did you know? Diana Rigg has passed away after a battle with cancer. CNN's Nina dos Santos looks back at her amazing career.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She was trained to perform Shakespeare, entering the show into but Diana Rigg chose TV to launch her career as Emma Peel, the secret agent in the 1960s British series "The Avengers." A move that catapulted her to fame entering the show into a cult classic.

The range of her talent spread worldwide in TV, films and on stage including a role 50 years later in another smash hit, "Game of Thrones." As a young actress, Rigg was part of that look of swinging 1960s London that captured the imagination of the rest of the world. Rigg didn't appear in the series until season 4 in 1965, but overnight she won over an international audience as the Avenger's girl.


DOS SANTOS: As one of the TV's first female super spies, Rigg blended sex appeal with cool intellect.

MACNEE: By the way, are you very busy now?

DIANA RIGG, ACTOR, THE AVENGERS TV SHOW: Not very. I just took an article for the science weeping.

DOS SANTOS: She helped popularized the cat suit, martial arts and performed her own stunts. Rigg's appeal helped to define a TV era at a time when Technicolor had not yet made its way onto you U.K. TV screens. In fact, the show was produced in color for the U.S. audience. She told the BBC years later that she wasn't prepared for the success of "The Avengers."

RIGG: I was very lucky and also very ignorant. Because I had absolutely no idea when I went into -- and got "The Avengers" what an impact it would have on my life.

DOS SANTOS: While rigg was considered a sex symbol, she never thought of herself as one. Having parity with her male costars was more important. She demanded a raise after learning that she was paid less than her costar and even the cameraman. After only two seasons she left "The Avengers" but her fame was intact and grew.


Next by making more history appearing in the James Bond film on her Majesty's Secret Service. Not as a Bond girl but as the only actress to play Bond's wife.


DOS SANTOS: Rigg never forgot her roots, always returning to the stage or appearing in British TV roles that shared the depth of her talent. And in the U.S., she hosted Mystery Theater for PBS. Also appearing on Broadway in the role of Medea, winning a Tony as the best actress. She received multiple awards and was honored by the Queen.

As Dame Diana Rigg, she won a new generation of fans, when she was cast in "Game of Thrones" as Lady Olenna Tyrell, known for her terrifying presence in the four seasons in which she appeared. After which her poisonous character was killed off by what else.

RIGG: Will there be pain?


RIGG: That's good.

DOS SANTOS: Rigg was tireless in her craft. A stage presence dominated for generations leaving her a legacy that's left her an icon and a national treasure.


ALLEN: Rigg's daughter says she died peacefully in her sleep surrounded by her family. Dame Diana Rigg was 82. My goodness. From "The Avengers", to James Bond, to "Game of Thrones." What a tremendous, tremendous career.

Thanks so much for watching this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen. I invite you to follow me on Instagram or Twitter. And to please join me tomorrow at the same time for CNN NEWSROOM. See you later.