- Dry conditions, a drought and the recent record heat wave in the region have created powder keg conditions.
- At least 2,000 homes have been evacuated at one point during the fire and 5,000 more threatened.
- In total, some 83 major forest fires are burning in 13 states, most in the western United States.
A massive wildfire in Oregon, which reached about half the size of Rhode Island, prompted fire officials to call for help from outside the Pacific Northwest to prepare for d ‘other fires in the parched state.
The Bootleg Fire, now about 606 square miles, burns 300 miles southeast of Portland in and around the Fremont-Winema National Forest, a vast expanse of old growth forests, lakes, and wildlife refuges. Fortunately, the fire is located in an area remote from the masses of the population.
The concern is that dry conditions, drought and the recent record heat wave in the region have created powder keg conditions, so resources such as fire trucks are being recruited from places such as Arkansas, Nevada and Alaska.
At least 2,000 homes have been evacuated at some point during the fire and 5,000 more are at risk. At least 70 houses and more than 100 outbuildings caught fire.
The forecast for the next few days did not bode well: “The combination of extreme drought, gusty winds and thunderstorms will cause fire weather issues for the northern Great Basin and northern Rockies through Thursday” , said the National Weather Service.
“Thunderstorms before the advance of a cold front entering the Pacific Northwest today are likely to produce little precipitation, but lightning could reach dehydrated terrain and start new forest fires,” said the meteorological service. “Red flag warnings are in effect and extend from northern California to Wyoming.”
A red flag warning means critical fire weather conditions are occurring or will occur shortly.
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A total of 83 large forest fires are burning in 13 states, most in the western United States, the National Interagency Fire Center said on Tuesday. Nearly 20,000 firefighters were battling the fires, which cover nearly 1.3 million acres of land.
Sixteen large, uncontrolled fires burned in Oregon and Washington alone . Authorities on Tuesday temporarily closed all recreational and public access to state-managed land in eastern Washington due to the fire hazard, starting Friday.
Further south, in north-central California, the 95-square-mile Dixie Fire burned down on Tuesday, threatening more than 800 homes and other structures, Cal Fire said. The fire, which is only 15% contained, spread overnight and continues to move north and east.
On Monday, the blaze generated a thunderstorm over itself, sending out lightning bolts and gusts of wind.
The edge of the blaze is a few miles from the town of Paradise, Calif., Which burned almost to the ground three years ago in a wildfire that killed 85 people.
Smoke from the wildfires has caused air quality problems as far east as parts of the Upper Midwest and even the northeast, the National Weather Service has said.
“We have an area of high pressure over the Rockies and it’s pretty big,” Kacie Hoover, an NWS meteorologist, told the Indianapolis Star. “So that’s just the way the airflow goes from the Pacific Northwest to western Canada and then all that air is routed to the Midwest, which is why we see the smoke above. we.”
Residents of Indianapolis woke up to a red morning sun and foggy skies on Tuesday due to smoke in the upper atmosphere. Residents can look up and see the impacts of the fires as the pattern continues, Hoover said, and might even see more beautiful sunsets.
Indiana wasn’t the only state shrouded in smoke: the whole of New York state was subject to an air quality advisory until Wednesday. The AQI reading in New York on Tuesday night was 157, considered unhealthy.
The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that people relax when the air quality is poor, reduce physical activity outdoors, and set the air conditioner to “recirculate.” Prolonged exposure can lead to headaches, sore throats and worse, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which also recommends sheltering in the home when air quality deteriorates.
But hazy skies will not be in the forecast for the east coast for long. A cold front will move across northeastern Canada on Wednesday, clearing some smoke, Accuweather said.
Contribution: Elinor Aspegren, USA TODAY; Indianapolis star Rashika Jaipuriar; The Associated Press