Facebook Twitter

What’s going on with Oregon’s Bootleg wildfire?

The largest active fire in the U.S. is now twice the size of New York City — and it’s becoming more difficult to fight

SHARE What’s going on with Oregon’s Bootleg wildfire?
The Bootleg Fire burns at night near Highway 34 in southern Oregon.

In this photo provided by the Bootleg Fire Incident Command, the Bootleg Fire burns at night near Highway 34 in southern Oregon on Thursday, July 15, 2021.

Jason Pettigrew, Bootleg Fire Incident Command via Associated Press

Wildfires in more than a dozen western states have continued to rage. Drought conditions, triple-digit temperatures and “dry lightning” have sparked more fires while making it difficult for firefighters to contain current blazes, reported CNN.

  • More than 1 million acres are on fire across the U.S., per CNN.
  • The largest wildfire currently burning is the Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon, reported The Associated Press.

Thousands of people have been forced to evacuate with thousands more on standby for possible evacuation orders, reported The Independent.

What’s going on with Oregon’s Bootleg wildfire?

Oregon’s Bootleg Fire has been burning since July 6 — almost two weeks — with no end in sight, reported CNN. The fire is the largest active fire in the U.S. right now and the largest fire in Oregon’s modern history.

  • The Bootleg Fire is only 25% contained, officials said Monday, per CNN.
  • The wildfire is burning in the Fremont-Winema National Forest near the Oregon-California border and has interrupted electricity delivery to California, reported the Deseret News.

More than 2,000 people — mostly those living in rural areas — have already evacuated the area, per the AP. Thousands more have been notified to prepare for evacuation at any possible moment as the fire continues to grow.

How big is the Bootleg Fire?

The Bootleg Fire is now burning more than 303,000 acres of land or more than 576 square miles, per the AP. The fire has burned more than 67 homes and 100 other buildings — while threatening more than 5,000 more buildings.

  • The Bootleg Fire is almost twice the size of New York City, reported The Independent.
  • The wildfire is now larger than Los Angeles, reported CNN.
  • The fire is larger than Phoenix, Arizona, (516 square miles) and almost the size of Houston, Texas, (600 square miles), according to data from World Population Review.

“This fire is large and moving so fast, every day it progresses 4 to 5 miles,” said Incident Commander Joe Hassel per The Independent.

When will the Bootleg Fire be contained?

Firefighters have made some progress containing the Western flank of the Bootleg Fire, but the southern and eastern flanks of the wildfire are continuing to grow dangerously, reported The Independent.

  • “The scope and scale of the Bootleg Fire will require a season-ending weather event such as a significant storm that is either widespread wetting rain or snow, which in southern Oregon typically occurs in the late fall,” said fire spokesperson Katy O’Hara to CNN.

Efforts to contain the fire have been complicated by triple-digit temperatures, erratic and ongoing winds, drought conditions, “fire clouds” with “dry lightning” and limited resources, reported the AP. Most fire containment efforts across the country are facing similar challenges.

  • “Weather’s really against us,” said Section Chief John Flannigan per CNN. “It’s going to be hot, it’s going to be dry and air’s going to be unstable which helps the heat rise faster, which brings in more air.
  • “All things that are negative for firefighters and positive for fire. So it’s going to be a real battle today,” he said.

How bad are the other wildfires in the West?

The Bootleg Fire is just one of nearly 80 wildfires burning across the U.S. in 13 states, per CNN. Combined, more than 1.1 million acres of land are currently on fire.

  • Montana has 18 wildfires burning — the most of any state — and Idaho has 17 fires burning, per CNN.
  • Weather in the western U.S. is expected to continue creating critical fire conditions into this week, per the AP.