Extreme weather fuels Oregon wildfires; outside help sought – News Vibe24

    Extreme weather fuels Oregon wildfires; outside help sought - Times of India
    PORTLAND: The threat of storms and lightning has prompted fire-affected Oregon officials to seek help from outside the Northwest Pacific to prepare for further fires, as many resources have already been devoted to a massive fire.
    The 569-square-foot (1,474-square-kilometer) Bootleg Fire burns 300 miles (483 kilometers) southeast of Portland in and around the Fremont-Winema National Forest, a vast expanse of forests, lakes, and wildlife refuges. Evacuations and asset losses were minimal compared to much smaller fires in densely populated areas of California.
    But as the Bootleg Fire – fueled by extreme weather – continues to grow by miles every day, officials with the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest in southwestern Oregon are calling for more outside crews to be on standby in the event of increased fire activity there.
    “Although lightning was forecast for earlier this week, it is expected to be east of us, we are prepared for the worst and we hope for the best,” said Mike McCann, a firefighter, in a statement released from the National Forest.
    The concern is that dry conditions, drought and the recent record heatwave in the region have created catastrophic conditions, with resources such as fire stations being recruited from places such as Arkansas, Nevada and Alaska.
    To the east, meanwhile, the size of the Bootleg Fire jaw, in contrast to its relatively small impact on humans, underscores the extent of the American West and reminds us that Oregon, which is larger than Britain, is still large degree rural state, despite being known mainly for its largest city, Portland.
    If the fire had been in densely populated areas of California, “it would have destroyed thousands of homes by now,” said James Johnston, a researcher at Oregon State University’s College of Forests, who is studying the historic fires. “But it is burning in one of the most remote areas of the lower 48 states. It is not the Bay Area out there.”
    At least 2,000 homes have been evacuated at some point during the fire and another 5,000 are at risk. At least 70 houses and more than 100 buildings have been set on fire. Thick smoke drowns out the area where residents and wildlife have already experienced months of drought and extreme heat. No one died.
    Pressed by strong winds from the southwest, the fire spread rapidly to the north and east, moving to an area that is increasingly remote.
    Evacuation orders at the southern end of the fire, closer to more densely populated areas such as Klamath Falls and Bly, have been lifted or relaxed as crews gain control. There are now small, anonymous communities like Paisley and Long Creek – both with less than 250 people – and scattered farmhouses at crossroads.
    But as big as Bootleg Fire is, it’s not the biggest Oregon has ever seen. So far the size of the fire puts it fourth on the list of the state’s largest fires in modern times, including wildfires, and second on the list of salts burned specifically in the forest.
    These large fires usually burn until late autumn or even early winter, when the rain finally sets.
    The largest forest fire in modern history was the Biscuit Fire, which burned nearly 780 square miles (2,000 square kilometers) in 2002 in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest in southern Oregon and Northern California.
    Bootleg Fire now contains about 30% by the end of Monday.
    On Monday, the flames forced the evacuation of a wildlife research station, as firefighters had to retreat for the ninth consecutive day due to the irregular and dangerous behavior of the fire. The Sycan Marsh is home to thousands of migratory and nesting birds and is a major research station for wetland restoration in the upper reaches of the Klamath Basin.
    Bootleg Fire was one of many fires burning in twelve states, most of them from the US to the West. Sixteen large uncontrolled fires burned in the states of Oregon and Washington alone on Monday.
    Extremely dry conditions and heat waves associated with climate change have made fires more difficult to combat. Climate change has made the West much warmer and drier in the last 30 years and will continue to make the weather more extreme and fires more frequent and devastating.
    And in Northern California, authorities extended the Tamarack Fire evacuation to the Sierra Nevada Alps to include the mountain town of Mesa Vista. This fire, which broke out over the weekend was 61 square miles (158 square kilometers) without restriction.
    On the west side of the Sierra, the Dixie Fire has burned 63 square miles (163 square kilometers), threatening tiny communities in the Feather River Valley area.
    Meteorologist Julia Rutford said in a statement that rising monsoon humidity from the US Southwest increased atmospheric instability on Sunday and Monday, creating a 30,000-foot (9,144-meter) peak – so large that the fire caused a storm. , throwing lightning and blow full of winds.
    Humidity and instability decreased, but dryness returned and conditions were expected to remain critical despite slight restraint, he said.
    “We are a kind of weather-related transaction,” he said.

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