It burns in several places in Oregon. Here, firefighting is underway at Sunday’s small Grandview blaze.
1 of 2picture: Oregon Forest Department / TT
It’s already twice the size of a huge fire — and not close to getting it under control. Illegal fires are burning in the arid Oregon forests.
– Maybe it will be much bigger. It’s on its way into the history books, Jim Gersbach of the state Forest Service said.
One week after it broke out, the 80,000-acre Bootleg Fire broke out in Oregon. According to The Oregonian, the fire lost its momentum somewhat as the massive amounts of smoke had a cooling effect.
Despite this, it is twice as large as what is classified as a massive fire, a fire over 100,000 English acres – just over 40,000 hectares.
It is also disappointing that the containment rate is currently zero percent.
“It’s already one of the ten worst fires in recent Oregon history and nowhere contained,” Jim Gersbach says.
dry and heated
Oregon is located on the west coast between California and Nevada in the south, Washington in the north and Idaho in the east, and summers are usually fairly mild. Sure, it can get hot, but this year it set a record with temperatures over 40 degrees. In addition, there is severe dehydration.
Fires burn in an area with mainly conifers, such as yellow pine and pine.
The reason the fire spreads so quickly, says Gersbach, is that the trees and shrubs are so dry.
– If it turns into a spark, it ignites very easily and then spreads very quickly. You don’t even need a lot of wind, because the trees burn like torches and the flames reach the next tree.
Oregon was hit by widespread fires last year as well, especially in September when they traversed cities and forced half a million people from their homes. So far, the Bootleg Fire has not been devastating, although some people have been forced to evacuate.
– The past year has been traumatic for many in Oregon given the loss of homes and lives. It does not happen in the modern era. Fires are nothing new, but people are taken to bed with how quickly and brutally they spread and how devastating they are.
The year 2020 was a wake-up call. On an individual level, Gersbach feels many are now prepared for the prospect of having to flee. At the state level, more money has been invested in preventive work. But efforts to reduce the risk of fires in vast forest areas are not taking place in the blink of an eye. Some hiking trails and recreation areas are still closed as it is dangerous to stay there due to dead and burnt trees from last year.
So far this year, Oregon has seen 68 percent more fires than the average of the past 10 years and an area 10 times more than average.
– We usually have a fire season until October and not until the end of July. I think there’s a feeling it’s going to be a long, hot summer.
Gersbach says people in the state are starting to talk about the effects of climate change not being a problem for the future, but they are facing the consequences here and now.
– We didn’t get any relief when it came to dehydration, it just got more severe. Now is the number of years of abnormal weather. People wonder if this is what it would look like every summer? This may be the new normal.