The Bootleg Fire in Oregon, which has scorched 537 square miles, an area larger than Los Angeles, has become so intense that it is creating its own weather. It began on July 6 in the Fremont-Winema National Forest near the California border. As of Monday morning, the fire has burned 303,791 acres. It’s only 25 percent contained. Much of the West remains under the threat of fire conditions Tuesday, with nearly 3.5 million people under red flag warnings. Temperatures in the region will remain up to 10 degrees above normal over the next 48 hours and excessive heat warnings will continue for more than 337,000 people.
Fire officials noted the Bootleg Fire is showing “aggressive surface spread with pyrocumulus development.” The formed clouds essentially become their own thunderstorms and can contain lightning and strong winds. In this case, the fire is predicting what the weather will do. Wind gusts up to 25 mph are expected over the next couple of days. The fire threatened more than 5,000 structures.Sixty-seven homes have been destroyed, along with 117 minor structures, such as sheds or detached garages. The National Weather Service issued a “red flag warning” for the Klamath Basin and Fremont-Winema National Forest. There are currently 80 large wildfires raging in 13 states across the US, burning more than 1.1 million acres.