The fires have caused power outages, destroyed structures and prompted the deployment of the Oregon National Guard.
In Oregon — where eight fires have burned nearly 475,000 acres — officials said the current fire season is unlike any they’ve seen before.
“I would categorize this fire season thus far as historic in terms of the amount of resources we’ve deployed, how many times we’ve deployed — within a three-week period we’ve mobilized to six conflagrations — and this is the earliest and most significant mobilization to date,” Mariana Ruiz-Temple with the Oregon Fire Marshall’s office said Tuesday.
Advisories for elevated fire potential and activity have been issued across Idaho, California, Oregon and the Northern Rockies, according to NIFC.
It’s not just fires in the US contributing to the smokey haze. The Canadian province of British Columbia declared a state of emergency due to wildfires there that will go into effect Wednesday. Nearly 300 active wildfires have been reported in the province.
Bootleg Fire is largest in country
In Oregon, record breaking, triple-digit temperatures and severe drought have devastated parts of the state.
“There’s absolutely no question that climate change is playing out for before our eyes,” Brown said at a news conference Tuesday. “We saw the heat dome event a few weeks ago, we unfortunately lost a lot of Oregonians through that event. In February, we saw devastating ice storms, over a half a million people lost power last fall, as you are well aware, we’ve had unprecedented wildfires.”
He said it’s possible that another 50,000 to 100,000 acres could burn before the Bootleg Fire is contained.
“The future for us for the remainder of the season continues to look above normal dry and above normal temperatures,” Graffe said. “So this is not going to return to normal anytime soon.”
CNN Meteorologist Michael Guy said Red Flag warnings in the area will continue through Wednesday, signaling dry and windy conditions with lots of smoke. After Thursday, the skies will clear, which could help slow the fire’s spread.
As a result of the fires, 62 members of the Oregon National Guard have been deployed, along with Blackhawk helicopters to provide water drops, fire spotting and medivac support, Major General Michael E. Stencel, Adjutant General of the Oregon National Guard said.
In addition to feeding fires, Oregon’s hot, dry conditions are also impacting Christmas trees grown in the state.
“It’s killing them,” Jacob Hemphill, a Christmas tree farmer in Clackamas County, said of the relentless heat this summer. “It’s horrible, there is nothing we can do.”
Unusually warm temperatures and severe dryness this year have caused irreversible burns on many trees, resulting in fewer trees to choose from this upcoming holiday season as well as potentially higher prices, growers said.
California’s Dixie Fire may have been sparked by electrical equipment
The Dixie Fire is so intense, it produced a thunderstorm, Incident Meteorologist Julia Ruthford said in a briefing Monday night. “The fire actually generated a thunderstorm over itself that led to some lightning out ahead of it and some really gusty and erratic winds due to that extreme, extreme conditions due to the thunderstorm overhead,” she explained.
Evacuations have been ordered in the area and the fire already destroyed two structures and threatens more than 800 others.
In a preliminary filing with the California Public Utilities Commission, PG&E detailed an outage alert Tuesday, July 13, the same day the fire started. A responding utility worker found three blown fuses and a tree leaning into a pole, with a small fire on the ground near the base of the tree.
The fire was reported to authorities and California Fire and Protection sent aerial firefighters to douse the flames, which had jumped from an initial estimate of 1-2 acres, to 10-15, according to the filing.
Since then, the fire has grown exponentially, burning in “remote areas with limited access and steep terrain,” Cal Fire said, which is hampering access by ground crews.
A lightning strike near the Alpine County, California, community of Markleeville started the fire, which has triggered mandatory evacuations for a number of campgrounds and neighborhoods in the area, and prompted road closures.
CNN’s Chris Boyette, Brisa Colon, Cheri Mossburg, Melissa Alonso, Andy Rose, and Kendall Lanier contributed to this report.