Drought, extreme heat, and thunderstorms might make it more difficult to put out dozens of big wildfires burning across the Western United States, including the Bootleg Fire in Oregon, which has burned over 360,000 acres.
According to the National Interagency Fire Center, the fires had destroyed 1,174,486 acres of land across 13 states. Early Tuesday, the National Preparedness Level was at Level 5.
The NIFC warned in a statement that “isolated to scattered showers with possibly embedded thunderstorms are likely to move over the northern Great Basin into the Northern Rockies early to mid-day.”
Among the worst-hit places are south-central Idaho, Northern California, the northern Rockies and south-central Oregon.
The Bootleg Fire grew by more than 20,000 acres from Monday to early Tuesday and is now at about 537 square miles, officials said. Containment is now about 30%, but it’s so large that it’s creating its own weather.
The fire’s extreme heat has caused air to rise quickly, resulting in thunderstorms with lightning and powerful winds. According to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, clouds have gathered in numerous regions of the fire.
For Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, and Montana, the National Weather Service issued red-flag warnings, excessive heat alerts, and fire watches.
There are presently 18 active fires in Montana, and 17 in Idaho. California, Oregon, and Washington state, respectively, have nine, eight, and seven.
The Bootleg Fire is the third-largest fire in state history and presently the largest burning in the United States. It began on July 6 in the Fremont-Winema National Forest near the California border and has forced more than 2,000 people to evacuate their homes. It’s destroyed 67 homes so far.