Amid oppressively high temperatures and drought affecting the western United States and Canada, the huge fire ravaging the state of Oregon grew again on Sunday and authorities ordered new evacuations.
Bootleg, the largest of the 80 major fires currently active in the United States, spread overnight from about 1,100 km2 to 1,170 km2, three times the area of the Detroit metropolis, authorities said.
The evacuations, which had already covered more than 2,000 people, continued on Sunday.
Satellite images from the National Weather Service showed a huge plume of smoke billowing up Bootleg in southern Oregon to the Canadian border, hundreds of miles northeast.
But with firefighters advancing on the western flank of Bootleg, overall containment of the fire more than tripled, to 22%.
Strong winds and widespread thunderstorms remain, however, a serious threat.
Firefighters say a fast-growing fire in California’s Lake Tahoe resort area was caused by lightning.
The fire called Tamarack, fueled by strong winds, has grown explosively, covering an area of more than 80 km2, without being contained so far.
The small nearby community of Markleeville, on the Nevada border, has been evacuated.
Scientists say climate change amplifies droughts, which in turn create ideal conditions for wildfires to spread.
The National Interagency Fire Center reported “very hot, dry and unstable weather conditions in the inner Pacific Northwest, the Northern Rocky Mountains and the Plains in northern Minnesota” for the next few hours.
Nearly 20,000 firefighters and support personnel are fighting to contain the fires raging in western states, he noted. More than 10,100 km2 of forests have been burned this year.
Meanwhile, Canadian firefighters continued to fight dozens of fires on Sunday, including about 20 new ones in the province of British Columbia and another 15 in the province of Ontario (northwest).
Authorities in the latter province said a firefighter had died at the hospital from an unspecified “medical emergency.”
With information from .