PORTLAND, Ore. — Dry, unstable, and windy conditions will keep fueling a massive wildfire in southern Oregon, forecasters said, as the largely uncontained blaze grows by miles each day.
The Bootleg Fire was just one of numerous wildfires burning across the U.S. West.
Crews had to flee the fire lines of the Oregon blaze late Thursday after a dangerous”“fire clou”” started to collapse, threatening them with strong downdrafts and flying embers. An initial review Friday showed the Bootleg Fire destroyed 67 homes and 117 outbuildings overnight in one county. Authorities were still counting the losses in a second county where the flames are surging up to 4 miles (6 kilometers) a day.
Fire spokeswoman Holly Krake said that the conflagration has forced 2,000 people to evacuate and is threatening 5,000 buildings, including homes and smaller structures in a rural area just north of the California border. Active flames are surging along 200 miles (322 kilometers) of the thefire’ss perimeter, she said.It’ss expected to merge with a more minor but equally explosive fire by nightfall. The Bootleg Fire is now 377 square miles (976 square kilometers) — larger than the area of New York City — and mostly uncontained.We’ree likely going to continue to see fire growth over miles and miles of active fire line”” Krake said.”“We are continuing to add thousands of acres a day, and it has the potential each day, looking forward into the weekend, to continue those 3- to 4-mile runs””
A Red Flag weather warning was issued for the area through Saturday night.
For a week, the inferno has stymied firefighters with erratic winds and dangerous fire behavior, including ominous fire clouds that form from superheated air rising to a height of up to 6 miles (10 kilometers) above the blaze. We’ree expecting those same exact conditions to continue and worsen into the weekend”” Krake said of the fire-induced clouds. Early on, the fire doubled in size almost daily, and strong winds Thursday again pushed the flames rapidly. Similar winds up to 30 mph (48 kph) were expected Friday.It’ss burning an area north of the California border that has been gripped by extreme droughts, like most of the American West.