Oregon’s Bootleg Fire is so big it creates its own climate – .

Oregon’s Bootleg Fire is so big it creates its own climate – .

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The Bootleg Fire burned 537 square miles – an area larger than Los Angeles and about half the size of Rhode Island. It reached nearly 364,113 acres on Monday and is 30% contained, Oregon Forestry Department spokesman Marcus Kauffman told CNN.

Much of the west remains under threat of fire conditions on Tuesday, with nearly 3.5 million people on red flag warnings, according to a tweet from the National Meteorological Service Weather Forecast Center. A red flag warning means “critical weather conditions for the fires are occurring now or soon will be,” the forecasting center said.

Excess heat warnings will continue for more than 337,000 people, and nearly 650,000 more are subject to heat advisories.

Temperatures in the region will remain up to 10 degrees above normal for the next 48 hours, CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said. There is also a risk of dry storms, which lack the precipitation that is desperately needed to help calm the flames.
While sporadic rains are possible in the Intermountain West, “it’s not really going to do much to tackle the wildfires in the west,” Guy said.

“Rain may fall from afternoon thunderstorms, but it will not be enough to stop or extinguish the fires in progress,” he said.

The Bootleg Fire changes the weather

A satellite image released by the Weather Service shows smoke from fires in western Canada and the Intermountain West rising above the region.

In Oregon, fire officials noted that the Bootleg Fire shows “aggressive surface spread with the development of pyrocumulus.”

Pyrocumulus clouds form when the extreme heat from the flames of a forest fire forces the air to rise rapidly, condensing and cooling any moisture on the smoke particles produced by the fire. These clouds essentially become their own thunderstorms and can contain lightning and strong winds.

Fire is “so big and generates so much energy and extreme heat that it changes the weather,” Kauffman explained. “Normally, time predicts what the fire will do. In this case, the fire predicts what time will do. “

The prolonged drought is also fueling fire conditions, and Kauffman predicted that the massive blaze will continue to expand.

“The fire burns with dense fuels which are extremely dry due to prolonged drought. Until today, the weather has been consistently hot, dry with humidity close to a number, ”he said.

Third largest fire in state history

The Bootleg fire began on July 6 in the Fremont-Winema National Forest near the California border and spared little in its path. More than 2,000 people are currently being evacuated from their homes, according to Sarah Gracey, public information officer on the fires.

80 large fires consumed more than a million acres in the western United States

Sixty-seven homes were destroyed, along with 117 minor structures, such as sheds or detached garages, Gracey said.

The blaze has spread on average at nearly 1,100 acres per hour for more than 13 straight days – a rate that would burn through New York’s Central Park in just 45 minutes.

And there appears to be little hope of making progress against the flames, as gusts of wind of up to 25 mph are expected over the next two days, Guy said.

The Bootleg Fire is the third largest wildfire in state history, Kauffman said. The Long Draw Fire in 2012 burned 557,028 acres and is the largest wildfire in Oregon since 1900, Kauffman said. The Biscuit Fire in 2002 became the second largest fire in the state, burning nearly 500,000 acres.

CNN’s Jenn Selva and Brandon Miller contributed to this report.

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