Bootleg Fire: Increasing Heat and Wind Could Complicate Fight to Contain Blaze
Most of the 50 small wildfires that were reportedly started by lightning strikes across southern Oregon over the weekend were extinguished, but firefighters didn’t have to look far to appreciate the precarious nature of every new fire.
Almost a month after the Bootleg fire was started by lightning, nearly 1,900 firefighters are still battling the blaze, which destroyed homes while burning more than 400,000 acres. Cloudy and rainy weather has helped them make considerable progress in recent days – the country’s largest wildfire was 84% contained on Monday evening – but the Bootleg Fire is not expected to be fully contained until October 1.
Fire officials are also wary of a forecast that could temper some of the recent gains. The Klamath Falls area could see temperatures in the mid-1990s on Tuesday and Wednesday, with wind gusts of up to 32 km / h Wednesday.
“We depend on weather conditions for our success,” said Al Nash, a spokesperson working with the fire department. He added: “There remains a vulnerability as we expect hot, dry and windy weather. “
The Oregon Forest Department said it received reports of around 50 lightning-triggered fires during thunderstorms on Sunday. Of the 35 fires confirmed to be active, the agency said, 20 were quickly extinguished and those that remain do not threaten any homes.
On Tuesday morning, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Governor Kate Brown are scheduled to visit a farm in Salem – in northwest Oregon – which has been affected by the region’s long drought. This prolonged drought has also provided more fuel for forest fires triggered by lightning strikes or human behavior.
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