U.S.|As a big wildfire is contained in Oregon, others blaze across the West.
- Aug. 16, 2021, 7:09 a.m. ET
Residents of Southern Oregon were waking up on Monday to find that the Bootleg Fire, which had ravaged more 400,000 acres of their state since early July, had been fully contained over the weekend.
But elsewhere in the West, dozens of blazes have been burning in states parched by drought and scorching temperatures.
The largest fire in the country, the Dixie Fire in California, had spread to more than 570,000 acres across four counties in the northern part of the state as of Sunday night, Cal Fire reported. That wildfire, which began more than a month ago, has burned an area about three-quarters the size of Rhode Island.
The Dixie Fire has destroyed 1,120 structures as of Sunday and threatened another 14,838 buildings, according to official estimates. It was only 31 percent contained as of Sunday night, and officials warned that lightning and high winds in the region made the fire’s exact path hard to predict.
The Dixie Fire is one of about 100 wildfires that have forced the U.S. Forest Service to deploy about 21,000 federal firefighters across the West, more than double the number deployed at this time a year ago.
Over the weekend, firefighters in Montana were chasing a pair of wildfires that had been caused by heat emanating from coal deposits. One of them, the Richard Spring Fire, had burned about 171,000 acres as of Sunday and was 65 percent contained, according to a New York Times wildfire tracker.
And in Utah, the Parleys Canyon Fire began on Saturday afternoon east of Salt Lake City, forcing the evacuation of at least 6,000 homes and burning through about 619 acres by Sunday. The fire started when a car sent sparks flying along a highway after its catalytic converter, a device that controls exhaust emissions, malfunctioned, the authorities said.
The Parleys Canyon Fire was only 10 percent contained as of Sunday. Gov. Spencer Cox of Utah said that some of the state’s firefighters were returning from wildfire duty in other states to help fight it. And Justin Martinez, the sheriff of Summit County, which includes Parleys Canyon, wrote on Twitter that mandatory evacuation orders for nearby areas could remain in effect until Tuesday.
Although wildfires occur throughout the West every year, scientists see the influence of climate change in the extreme heat waves that have contributed to the intensity of fires this summer. Prolonged periods of abnormally high temperatures are a signal of a shifting climate, they say.
Some help may be on the way this week for firefighters battling Utah’s three wildfires, of which Parleys Canyon is the largest. There was a possibility of rain and thunderstorms across much of the state between Tuesday and Thursday, according to the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City.
But in Northern California, thunderstorms that moved into the area around the Dixie Fire over the weekend did not produce much rain. Instead, lightning and high winds threatened to spread fire even farther afield.
Pacific Gas & Electric, the California utility, said on Sunday that it might have to shut off power for 39,000 customers in 16 countries on Tuesday to prevent power lines from starting wildfires in dry, windy conditions.