Forest fires are raging within the western states; California, Oregon, Arizona included
More than 300,000 acres burned in six states in the western United States on Sunday as the region battled another brutal heatwave that broke records and strained power grids.
The largest, called the Bootleg Fire, burned 143,607 acres in Oregon and was 0% contained. Officials in the neighboring state of California urged all residents to quickly cut electricity usage after the fire destroyed power lines between states, preventing up to 4,000 megawatts of electricity from flowing into the state.
“The bootleg fire will see the potential for extreme growth today,” the National Weather Service in Medford, Oregon said on Twitter, fueled by extreme drought and temperatures close to 100 that are not expected to subside until mid-week.
“The fire behavior we see on Bootleg Fire is some of the most extreme you can find and firefighters are seeing conditions they have never seen before,” said Al Lawson, the commander of the fire incident.
Further south, the equally impressive Beckwourth Complex Fire measured 83,926 acres and was 8% enclosed in California and bordered on the border with Nevada. It’s the biggest forest fire of the year in the state.
The fire consists of the fires Dotta and Sugar. The Dotta Fire is approximately 670 hectares and is 99% contained. The Sugar Fire is 83,256 acres and contains 8%.
It jumped a main road, US 395, Saturday night and threatened homes in Nevada’s Washoe County. Excessive heat warnings were issued in both Nevada and California as firefighters worked in scorching drought.
NV Energy, Nevada’s largest electricity company, also urged its customers to save electricity on Saturday and Sunday evenings.
Western heatwave: Las Vegas hits all-time high of 117; Palm Springs hits 120
Death Valley in the Mojave Desert in southeastern California reached 128 degrees Fahrenheit on Furnace Creek on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. The shockingly high temperature was even lower than the day before when the site hit 130.
The 130-degree reading, if confirmed, would be the hottest high recorded there since July 1913, when the Furnace Creek Desert hit 134, which is believed to be the highest recorded temperature on earth.
The National Weather Service warned the dangerous conditions could cause heat-related illnesses.
Palm Springs in Southern California hit a record 120 degrees on Saturday. It was the fourth time that temperatures reached 120 degrees so far this year, reported the Desert Sun.
In California’s agricultural Central Valley, 100-degree temperatures covered the region, with Fresno hitting 111 degrees, just one degree below the all-time high for the date.
Las Vegas hit an all-time high of 117 on Saturday afternoon, the National Weather Service said. The city has recorded this record temperature four more times, most recently in June 2017.
California wildfires begin “a daunting start” currently surpasses the historic 2020 season
2 firefighters dead after responding to a forest fire in Arizona
Two Arizona firefighters died after a plane crashed Saturday afternoon in response to wildfire in the state, according to the Federal Bureau of Land Management. The Cedar Story Basin Fire was 700 acres and was 0% contained.
At least four forest fires burned in southeast Washington, the largest of which covered 46,352 acres as record temperatures last week left the state very dry, according to Public Land Commissioner Hilary Franz.
In Idaho, Governor Brad Little declared a forest fire emergency on Friday and mobilized the state’s National Guard to help fight fires that ignited after thunderstorms over the drought-stricken region. The forest fires there had burned a total of 39,000 hectares by Sunday.
And in Montana, multiple fires blocked roads across the state and triggered evacuation orders.
Contributors: Zach Urness and Virginia Barreda, Salem Statesman Journal; Kristin Oh, Reno Gazette-Journal; The Associated Press