Oregon’s Bootleg Fire is Fully Contained
Even as the Bootleg fire in Oregon was fully contained, residents in California, Montana and Utah had to flee their homes.,
More evacuations are ordered for thousands in the path of wildfires across the West.
Firefighters observe a smoldering area of the Patton Meadow Fire near Lakeview, Ore., on Sunday.Credit…Mathieu Lewis-Rolland/Getty Images
A township north of the Mendocino National Forest in Northern California was issued a mandatory evacuation order on Monday morning, becoming the latest in a series of communities across the west where raging wildfires have forced several thousand residents to flee their homes in recent days.
The Shasta County Sheriff’s Office, which had previously warned residents of rural Platina Township to be ready to leave their homes at a moment’s notice, said gusty winds were continuing to push the McFarland fire toward the community of about 200 people, and it was time to go.
The McFarland fire is one of at least six large blazes burning in Northern California, including the Dixie fire, the second-largest in the state’s recorded history, which has so far destroyed at least 1,100 structures.
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The Dixie fire had spread to more than 570,000 acres across four counties as of Sunday night, Cal Fire, the state’s firefighting agency, reported. It began more than a month ago and has burned an area about three-quarters the size of Rhode Island. The fire was only 31 percent contained as of Sunday night, and officials warned that lightning and high winds in the region made the fire’s exact path hard to predict.
The Dixie fire is one of about 100 wildfires that have forced the U.S. Forest Service to deploy about 21,000 federal firefighters across the West in states parched by drought and scorching temperatures, more than double the number deployed at this time a year ago.
Pacific Gas & Electric, the California utility, said on Sunday that it might have to shut off power for 39,000 customers in 16 of the state’s counties on Tuesday to prevent power lines from starting wildfires in dry, windy conditions.
The growth of fires continued even as the Bootleg fire, which had ravaged more 400,000 acres of southern Oregon since early July, was fully contained over the weekend. Firefighters in Montana were chasing a pair of growing blazes that had been caused by heat emanating from coal deposits.
One of them, the Richard Spring fire, had burned about 171,000 acres as of Sunday and was 65 percent contained, according to a New York Times wildfire tracker.
In Utah, the Parleys Canyon fire began on Saturday afternoon east of Salt Lake City, forcing the evacuation of at least 6,000 homes and burning through about 619 acres by Sunday. The fire started when a car sent sparks flying along a highway after its catalytic converter, a device that controls exhaust emissions, malfunctioned, the authorities said.
The Parleys Canyon fire was only 10 percent contained as of Sunday. Gov. Spencer Cox of Utah said that some of the state’s firefighters were returning from wildfire duty in other states to help fight it. And Justin Martinez, the sheriff of Summit County, which includes Parleys Canyon, wrote on Twitter that mandatory evacuation orders for nearby areas could remain in effect until Tuesday.
And in the Midwest, a fire that broke out near Greenwood Lake in northeastern Minnesota on Sunday was one of several that have burned in the state over the past few days. The U.S. Forest Service said in a notice on Monday that the fire was “estimated to be a couple hundred acres and moving quickly.”
Gov. Tim Walz of Minnesota also asked the Minnesota National Guard on Sunday to help suppress a wildfire in northwestern part of the state, saying that the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center did not have the resources to both fight the blaze and carry out “widespread wildfire suppression.”
Although wildfires occur throughout the West every year, scientists see the influence of climate change in the extreme heat waves that have contributed to the intensity of fires this summer. Prolonged periods of abnormally high temperatures are a signal of a shifting climate, they say.
Some help may be on the way this week for firefighters battling Utah’s three wildfires, of which Parleys Canyon is the largest. There was a possibility of rain and thunderstorms across much of the state between Tuesday and Thursday.
But in Minnesota, a local National Weather Service office has said that the dry, sunny weather expected this week would contribute to “near-critical” conditions for fire, particularly in the state’s parched northeast.