The Bootleg Fire in Oregon is So Big, It Creates Its Own Weather
Excess heat warnings will continue for more than 337,000 people, and nearly 650,000 others are subject to a heat warning.
Temperatures in the area will remain 10 degrees above normal for the next 48 hours, CNN meteorologist Michael Jay said. There is also a chance of dry storms that lack much-needed precipitation to help cool the flames.
While some scattered rain is possible across Intermountain West, Jay said, “This wouldn’t do much in the way of fighting any of the wildfires in the West.”
“Some rain may fall from afternoon storms, but it is not enough to stop or put out the ongoing fires,” he said.
Bootleg fire changes the weather
A satellite image released by the Weather Service shows smoke from fires in Western Canada and the International West billowing over the area.
In Oregon, fire officials noted that the Bootleg Fire shows “aggressive surface spread as pyrocumulus develops.”
Fire is “so big and generates so much energy and heat so intense that it changes the weather,” Kaufman explained. “Usually, the weather predicts what the fire will do. In this case, the fire predicts what the weather will do.”
“The fire burning is very dry thick fuel from a long drought. Even today, the weather has been consistently hot and dry with humidity close to single digit,” he said.
The third largest fire in the country’s history
Gracey said 67 homes were destroyed, as well as 117 secondary structures, such as shacks or separate garages.
The fire was spreading at nearly 1,100 acres per hour for more than 13 consecutive days — a rate that could burn through New York’s Central Park in just 45 minutes.
Jay said there appears to be little hope of progress against the fires as winds are expected to reach 25 mph over the next two days.
“Fighting this fire is a marathon, not a sprint,” said Rob Allen, incident leader for PNW’s Incident Management Team 2, in an update Tuesday. “We are in this for as long as it takes to safely confine this monster.”
Kaufman said the Bootleg Fire is the third largest wildfire in the state’s history. Kaufman said the Long Draw Fire in 2012 burned 557,028 acres and is the largest wildfire in Oregon since 1900. The biscuit fire in 2002 became the second largest fire in the state, burning nearly 500,000 acres.
CNN’s Jen Silva, Brandon Miller, Claire Colbert and Chris Boyett contributed to this report.