The largest of the dozens of active fires in the United States has reached such large dimensions that it even generates its own weather conditions, making the work of firefighters difficult, authorities reported Tuesday.
The fire baptized as “Bootleg”, in the southeast of the state of Oregon near the border with California, has already burned more than 157,000 hectares since it was declared in early July, has destroyed 117 human constructions and has more than 2,000 firefighters fighting the flames.
“The fire is so large and generating so much energy and extreme heat that it is changing weather conditions,” Oregon Department of Forestry spokesman Marcus Kauffman told reporters Tuesday.
“Normally, the weather situation predicts what the fire will do. In this case, it’s the fire predicting what the weather will do,” he said.
Only fires of titanic dimensions such as this one are capable of affecting the weather, something that complicates firefighting tasks even more, as it is not possible to predict what the evolution of the flames will be in the short term.
The images taken by satellites on Tuesday showed a gigantic column of smoke that, from southeastern Oregon, moved northward until it reached the Canadian border, about 1,000 kilometers away.
The fire affects a mountainous and vegetated area in the Fremont-Winema National Forest and firefighters do not expect to have it fully contained until early October.
Its proximity to a high-voltage power transmission line that connects the California and Oregon grids has led authorities to ask consumers on several occasions over the past few days to reduce electricity consumption as much as possible to avoid overloading the line and worsening the situation.
In addition to the one in Oregon, another 80 large fires are burning in various parts of the western United States, several of them in California, where extreme drought after a winter with hardly any rain and high temperatures in recent weeks have brought the fire season forward by several months.