- The conditions have created the perfect environment for out-of-control wildfires in a record-breaking wildfire season, per The Guardian.
How bad are the wildfires in the West?
As of Monday, wildfires are currently raging across seven states in the western U.S. and burning more than 768,000 acres, reported Yahoo News. Both Idaho and Washington have announced statewide wildfire emergencies. Over the weekend, multiple wildfires surged and the blazes show no signs of slowing down, per USA Today.
Right now, these are the most concerning uncontained fires:
1. The Bootleg Fire in Oregon
“The fire behavior we are seeing on the Bootleg Fire is among the most extreme you can find and firefighters are seeing conditions they have never seen before,” Al Lawson, the fire incident commander said, per USA Today.
- The Bootleg Fire is burning over 150,000 acres and remains 0% contained, per NBC News.
- The fire doubled in size between Saturday and Sunday, forcing firefighters to retreat to safety zones and wait for additional forces, said NBC News.
Although still uncontained in Oregon, the Bootleg Fire has begun to wreak havoc in California after destroying key interstate electricity lines. Northern California lost a substantial amount to imported power, straining the state's power grid as temperatures surged to triple digits, reported USA Today.
- Officials have not determined the cause of the Bootleg Fire, per NBC News.
- The fire has has “the potential for extreme growth today,” according to the National Weather Service in Medford, Oregon, per USA Today.
The entire state of Oregon is under an elevated fire risk for the next two months, according to Willamette Week, a local news outlet.
2. The Beckwourth Complex Fire in California and Nevada
The Beckwourth Complex Fire began in California but, over the weekend, jumped a major highway and spread toward Nevada, reported The Guardian. The fire is now the largest in the state of California this year and even caused a “firenado.”
- Currently, the Beckwourth Complex Fire is burning almost 90,000 acres and remains only 20% contained, per Yahoo News.
- The fire is a combination of two fires that burned together — the Dotta fire and Sugar fire, said USA Today. Both fires started due to lightning strikes.
Both California and Nevada have issued excessive heat warnings for this week. The heat may cause the fire to spread further while also making it more dangerous for firefighters working to contain the blaze, reported USA Today.
- On Saturday, the flames caused a “firenado” — a fire tornado or fire twister — due to the clash of hot and cool air that caused smoke and fire to swirl rapidly, reported Gizmodo. Firefighters captured the rare extreme weather event on video.
3. The Cedar Story Basin Fire in Arizona
The Cedar Story Basin Fire is currently burning in Arizona, per CNN. By size, the fire has not yet reached the same concerning level as the Bootleg and Beckwourth Complex fires. However, the Cedar Story Basin Fire has already caused two fatalities.
- The fire is burning about 700 acres but remains less than 5% contained, reported Yahoo News.
Two Arizona firefighters died Sunday while doing a reconnaissance flight over the fire. Their plane crashed and neither survived, per The Guardian. Many details are unknown although an investigation is underway.
- “Our hearts go out to the families of our brave wildland firefighters,” said the Arizona Bureau of Land Management, per The Guardian.