Officials say the Bootleg fire, the largest wildfire in the country, may not be fully contained until the fall.
Located in southern Oregon, the fire was first reported on July 6, covered 212,377 acres as of early Thursday morning and is only 5% contained. This is according to InciWeb, the National Fire Information Center’s website.
A public information officer for Northwest Incident Management Team 10, which is fighting the fire, told Newsweek in a written statement that the estimated containment date was set for November because officials “will have a great deal of mop-up, repair and recovery to complete.” Officials are still investigating the cause of the fire.
“Dry and windy conditions contributed to another day of active fire behavior on the Bootleg fire burning in southern Oregon. Firefighters reported growth primarily to the east in the greater Gearhart Wilderness area,” fire officials said in an update on Wednesday. “Air operations were severely limited due to unsafe flying conditions in heavy smoke.”
Rob Allen, incident commander for the PNW2 Incident Management Team, said in the update that fire crews are “making steady progress where winds and terrain allow.”
“But for the third day in a row, firefighters had to disengage at times for their safety and weather isn’t going to change for the foreseeable future,” Allen added.
Over the past several days, dry and hot weather has allowed the Bootleg fire to increase in size rather quickly. The fire burned around 50,000 acres last week but grew to around 153,000 acres by Monday. On Tuesday, fire officials reported on InciWeb that the Bootleg fire burned 201,923 acres, indicating that it grew by over a third in size overnight.
The National Weather Service has red flag warning in place from northeastern California to central Oregon and eastern Washington, as well as from central Idaho to Montana. This is due to the combination of wildfires, breezy conditions, severe drought and very low humidity. Wind gusts will reach 30 to 40 mph, blowing from west to east, spreading smoke to many areas.
The NWS also has air quality alerts issued for southern and northeastern Oregon, northern Idaho, western Montana and western Wyoming as smoke and particulates from the fires will make the air unhealthy to breathe.
With the exception of some possible scattered thunderstorms Thursday, the region may not receive any rain for the next several days. One silver lining — winds should subside late Thursday afternoon and evening, giving crews a little leeway in containing fires.
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