Oregon, USA – More than 60 fires have engulfed entire regions in at least 10 western US states. The largest, in Oregon, took up an area nearly twice the size of Portland, the state’s largest city, the Guardian reported.
Fires have hit residential areas, forcing thousands of people to evacuate areas from Alaska to Wyoming, according to the Interagency National Fire Center. In three states — Arizona, Idaho, and Montana — there are more than half of active major fires.
The fire broke out during the second wave of high temperatures to hit the American West in a few weeks. Scientists said a major drought, exacerbated by the climate crisis, is contributing to conditions that make fires more dangerous.
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According to the National Weather Service, a wave of high temperatures appears to have peaked in many areas, and excessive heat warnings are beginning to expire.
In Northern California, firefighters spent days battling wind-fuelled fires, hot weather and low humidity that drained moisture from vegetation. Evacuation orders were in effect for more than 3,000 residents of remote areas in the north of the state and in neighboring Nevada.
There were reports of houses being burned, but the damage is still ongoing. The fire devoured more than 300 square kilometers of land, including the Plumas National Forest.
The fire that started Sunday in the Sierra Nevada, south of Yosemite National Park, has reached 36 square miles and is only 10 percent contained.
The largest fire in the United States occurred on the California border in southwestern Oregon. The Bootleg Fire — which doubled in size over the weekend — threatened about 2,000 homes, according to information from state firefighters. At least seven homes and more than 40 buildings were hit.
In total, there are 67 active major fires on American soil today, burning more than 2,300 square kilometers. More than 14,200 firefighters, in addition to support personnel, have been assigned to fight the flames.
The incidence of fires has increased significantly this year compared to 2020. From January 1 to July 13, 2021, there were 33,953 fires, compared to 27,770 in the same period in 2020, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
The heat wave in July comes amid worsening drought conditions across the region. Scientists say man-made climate deterioration and decades of putting out fires that increase fuel loads have increased risks across the region.