Klamath, Oregon: Armed teams aided by water-dropping aircraft battled a massive wildfire in southern Oregon. Thursday, that evacuated approximately 2,000 people.
This is the largest of hundreds of blazes raging throughout the drought-stricken western United States, Reuters reported.
Since erupting on July 6, roughly 400 kilometers south of Portland, the Bootleg Fire has scorched more than 91,860 hectares of parched timber and brush in and around the Fremont-Winema National Forest.
According to Jim Gersbach, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Forestry, more than 1,700 firefighters and a dozen aircraft were assigned to the wildfire, with demand for troops and equipment across the Pacific Northwest beginning to strain existing resources.
The raging landmass, which exceeded that of New York City’s, was 12,000 acres larger than the previous day’s total.
According to the Reuters report, strike teams had carved containment lines around 7% of the perimeter of the fire, up from 5% a day earlier, but Incident Commander Joe Hessel indicated the wildfire would continue to spread.
Hessel tweeted, the incredibly dry vegetation and weather are not in their favor.
“It’s uncommon for us to reach this level of demand on firefighting resources this early” in the season, he said.
Officials said the Bootleg Fire has caused no significant injuries, but it has burned at least 21 homes and 54 other structures, as well as forcing an estimated 2,000 people to evacuate hundreds of homes. Almost 2,000 homes were in jeopardy.
The largest of a slew of wildfires
The Bootleg is by far the largest of 70 major active wildfires reported on Thursday by the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, as affecting almost 1 million acres in 11 states.
According to state forestry records, it was also the sixth-largest since 1900 in Oregon.
California, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska are among the states hardest devastated by the recent wildfires, Reuters reported.
As of Wednesday, the center in Boise had set its “national wildland fire preparation level” to 5, the highest of its five tiers, indicating that the majority of US firefighting resources are currently deployed across the country.
The situation marks an unusually busy start to the annual fire season, which has been marked by abnormally dry conditions and record-breaking heat across most of the Western United States in recent weeks.
According to scientists, the increased frequency and intensity of wildfires is mostly due to protracted drought, which is a symptom of climate change.
Butte County is still recovering from a 2018 firestorm that killed 85 people and destroyed nearly 19,000 structures, making it the state’s deadliest wildfire disaster.