- More than 17,700 wildland firefighters and support personnel are assigned to wildfires.
- The USA’s largest fire, the Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon, has scorched over 225,000 acres, an area larger than New York City.
- It has been a hot summer in much of the West, and that pattern is set to continue, AccuWeather said.
The ferocious 2021 wildfire season in the West showed no signs of letting up Friday, as thousands of firefighters continued to battle dozens of blazes across the parched, overheated region.
“Currently, 70 wildfires have burned 1,061,516 acres across the United States,” the National Interagency Fire Center said Friday. “More than 17,700 wildland firefighters and support personnel are assigned to wildfires.”
The nation’s largest fire, the Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon, has scorched over 225,000 acres, an area larger than New York City, fire officials said. The blaze has stymied firefighters for nearly a week with erratic winds and extremely dangerous fire behavior.
Authorities ordered a new round of evacuations Thursday amid worries the Bootleg Fire, which has already destroyed 21 homes, could merge with another blaze that also grew explosively.
Firefighters were all pulled back to safe areas late Thursday due to intense fire behavior.
The Bootleg Fire is churning through forests of ponderosa and lodgepole pine wracked by drought this year followed by a long-running heat wave that has left much of the high-desert ecosystem parched and primed to burn, the Oregonian reported.
It has been a hot summer in much of the West, and that pattern is set to continue, AccuWeather said. By this weekend and into early next week, a heat dome is expected to become established in the northern Rockies and this will cause temperatures to skyrocket once again. Temperatures are forecast to soar above 100 degrees as far north as Montana.
The nation has set 585 all-time heat records in the past 30 days, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Extremely dry conditions and heat waves tied to climate change have swept the West, making wildfires harder to fight. Climate change has made the American West much warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.
Meanwhile, a fire near the northern California town of Paradise, which burned in a horrific 2018 wildfire, caused jitters among homeowners who were just starting to return to normal after surviving the deadliest blaze in U.S. history.
The Dixie Fire ignited earlier this week in the area of Camp Creek and Dixie roads in Jarbo Gap, near where the 2018 Camp Fire sparked northeast of Paradise and claimed the lives of more than 80 people, KCRA-TV said.
Chuck Dee and his wife, Janie, returned last year to Paradise on the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada to rebuild a home lost in that fire. So when they woke up Thursday and saw smoke from the new Dixie Fire, it was frightening, even though it was burning away from populated areas.
“It made my wife and I both nervous,” he said.
The Dixie Fire has charred nearly 5,000 acres and was only 7% contained as of late Thursday, Cal Fire said.
California’s fire season has already seen more than three times as much land burned as during the same period last year, officials told CNN. And the 2020 record was the worst ever, with some 4.1 million acres burned, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
Contributing: The Associated Press