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Oregon’s massive Bootleg fire is creating its own climate

Text: Mar Aguilar / Production: Adriana Toca

Bootleg, the fire that broke out on July 6 in Oregon’s Fremont-Winema National Forest, has burned more than 140,000 hectares to date from the south of the state. This equates to an area greater than the size of the city of Los Angeles. The flames have gone fast and, according to CNN, the average rate of spread has been almost 4.5 square km per hour for more than 13 consecutive days. To give us an idea, at that rate it would burn Central Park, the famous park in New York, in just 45 minutes.

“Fire is so big and generates so much energy and extreme heat that the climate is changing”Marcus Kauffman, spokesman for the Oregon State Department of Forestry told The New York Times. “Usually the weather predicts what the fire will do. In this case, the fire is predicting what the weather will do ”.

After burning for two weeks, the extreme heat of the fire has caused rapid changes of wind and possible tones of fire. It has also created its own pyrocumulus clouds, which reach 9,144 meters in height. This type of cloud is created when the extreme heat from the flames of a fire causes the air to rise rapidly, condensing and cooling any moisture that may exist in the smoke particles that have been produced by the fire.

The collapse of these types of clouds creates dangerous weather conditions, generates thunderstorms and can bring lightning and powerful winds. “All that mass has to come down again. It’s not good at all, ”Chuck Redman of the National Weather Service told The New York Times.

Experts say significant rains will be needed to extinguish the Bootleg fire. “We don’t see any significant relief, at least for the next week. But I don’t think we can get any worse “Redman said. Also, the prolonged drought the area is experiencing is not helping to douse the flames. According to CNN, 90% of the state is in a position to exceptional, extreme or severe drought. In the coming days, experts expect gusts of winds of up to 40 km / hour.

This is the third largest wildfire of all that have occurred in the state of Oregon. The biggest since 1900 was the Long Draw fire in 2012, Kauffman explained to CNN, and second is the Biscuit fire in 2002.

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