The wildfire season out west is shaping up to be one of the worst in history. More than 14,000 firefighters are battling about 70 blazes in 12 states. More than 850,000 acres has already burned. USA Today writes:
The largest fire in the country was incinerating huge swaths of the Fremont-Winema National Forest in southern Oregon near the California border. The Bootleg Fire was disrupting service on three transmission lines providing up to 5,500 megawatts of electricity to California. The Goldpower grid operator has asked for voluntary power conservation during evening hours.
Eight fires raged in California. Blazes also were burning in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado, Minnesota and Alaska amid a week of heat warnings, record-smashing temperatures and regional drought.
Satellite imagery shows Oregon’s Bootleg Fire growing on Monday. As of Tuesday evening, the nation’s largest wildfire had grown to over 201,000 acres. https://t.co/7csoLaReFs pic.twitter.com/DKOFd8D9zf
— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 14, 2021
NPR adds that the wildfires “are threatening American Indian tribal lands that already are struggling to conserve water and preserve traditional hunting grounds in the face of a Western drought.”
In north-central Washington, hundreds of people in the town of Nespelem on the Colville Indian Agency were ordered to leave because of “imminent and life-threatening” danger as the largest of five wildfires caused by dozens of Monday night lightning strikes tore through grass, sagebrush and timber.
We’re learning more about the situation in Nespelem. According to fire officials, the entire town and the Colville Indian Agency have to leave now. Homes, tribal facilities and outbuildings are threatened. The fire is said to be caused by lighting. @kxly4news pic.twitter.com/sdEPSeLZiu
— Kaitlin Knapp (@Kaitlin_Knapp1) July 13, 2021
California Incident Management Operations Section Chief Jake Cagle said it’s early to see these extreme fire conditions, “This is stuff that we expect in August, for the past five, six, seven years, now we’re seeing it earlier in July.”
The Guardian says experts are blaming “a vicious feedback cycle of extreme heat, drought and fire, all amplified by the climate crisis.”
Oregon Governor Jay Inslee said, “The reality is, we have a permanent emergency in my state, most of the western United States, indeed the whole nation and because of climate change this is an absolute reality we are now experiencing.”
Watch more from CBS News above.