Wildfires prompt evacuations along the West Coast and hazy conditions as far as the East Coast

by 24USATVJuly 21, 2021, 2 p.m. 19
-

(CNN) Extreme heat and dry conditions are fueling raging wildfires in the western US, charring more than a million acres, requiring evacuations and creating smoky conditions visible from space.

The fires have caused power outages, destroyed structures and prompted the deployment of the Oregon National Guard.

As extreme drought still grips most of the West and the fires have become so intense they've created their own weather systems, the threat of more fires remains.

In Oregon -- where eight fires have burned nearly 475,000 acres -- officials said the current fire season is unlike any they've seen before.

In this long-exposure photograph, taken early on July 2, flames surround a drought-stricken Shasta Lake during the Salt Fire in Lakehead, California.

In this long-exposure photograph, taken early on July 2, flames surround a drought-stricken Shasta Lake during the Salt Fire in Lakehead, California.

Embers blow across a field as the Sugar Fire burns in Doyle, California, on July 9.

Embers blow across a field as the Sugar Fire burns in Doyle, California, on July 9.

Men hug a member of the Red Cross at a Bootleg Fire evacuation center in Klamath Falls, Oregon, on July 12.

Men hug a member of the Red Cross at a Bootleg Fire evacuation center in Klamath Falls, Oregon, on July 12.

Fire consumes a home as the Sugar Fire, part of the Beckwourth Complex Fire, tears through Doyle, California, on July 10. It's the second time in less than a year that the small town has been ravaged by a wildfire.

An airplane drops fire retardant on the Chuweah Creek Fire in Washington on July 14.

An airplane drops fire retardant on the Chuweah Creek Fire in Washington on July 14.

Burned cars sit outside a home that was destroyed by the Chuweah Creek Fire in Nespelem, Washington.

Burned cars sit outside a home that was destroyed by the Chuweah Creek Fire in Nespelem, Washington.

Firefighters dig away at hot spots underneath stumps and brush after flames from the Snake River Complex Fire swept through the area south of Lewiston, Idaho, on July 15.

Firefighters dig away at hot spots underneath stumps and brush after flames from the Snake River Complex Fire swept through the area south of Lewiston, Idaho, on July 15.

A firefighter battles the Bootleg Fire in the Fremont-Winema National Forest, along the Oregon and California border, on Thursday, July 15.

A firefighter battles the Bootleg Fire in the Fremont-Winema National Forest, along the Oregon and California border, on Thursday, July 15.

Fire from the Bootleg Fire illuminates smoke near Bly, Oregon, on the night of July 16.

Fire from the Bootleg Fire illuminates smoke near Bly, Oregon, on the night of July 16.

Horses climb a hillside that was burned by the Chuweah Creek Fire in eastern Washington.

Horses climb a hillside that was burned by the Chuweah Creek Fire in eastern Washington.

Firefighters spray water from the Union Pacific Railroad's fire train while battling the Dixie Fire in California's Plumas National Forest on July 16.

Firefighters spray water from the Union Pacific Railroad's fire train while battling the Dixie Fire in California's Plumas National Forest on July 16.

A cloud from the Bootleg Fire drifts into the air near Bly, Oregon, on July 16.

A cloud from the Bootleg Fire drifts into the air near Bly, Oregon, on July 16.

A member of the Northwest Incident Management Team 12 holds a map of the Chuweah Creek Fire as wildfires devastated Nespelem, Washington, on Friday, July 16.

A member of the Northwest Incident Management Team 12 holds a map of the Chuweah Creek Fire as wildfires devastated Nespelem, Washington, on Friday, July 16.

The Tamarack Fire burns in Markleeville, California, near the Nevada border, on Saturday, July 17. The fire was sparked by lightning on July 4 and has triggered mandatory evacuations for a number of campgrounds and neighborhoods in the area.

The Tamarack Fire burns in Markleeville, California, near the Nevada border, on Saturday, July 17. The fire was sparked by lightning on July 4 and has triggered mandatory evacuations for a number of campgrounds and neighborhoods in the area.

Firefighters extinguish hot spots in an area affected by the Bootleg Fire near Bly, Oregon, on July 19.

Firefighters extinguish hot spots in an area affected by the Bootleg Fire near Bly, Oregon, on July 19.

Nicolas Bey, 11, hugs his father, Sayyid Bey, on Monday, July 19, near a donated trailer they are using after their home was burned in the Bootleg Fire near Beatty, Oregon.

Nicolas Bey, 11, hugs his father, Sayyid Bey, on Monday, July 19, near a donated trailer they are using after their home was burned in the Bootleg Fire near Beatty, Oregon.

"I would categorize this fire season thus far as historic in terms of the amount of resources we've deployed, how many times we've deployed -- within a three-week period we've mobilized to six conflagrations -- and this is the earliest and most significant mobilization to date," Mariana Ruiz-Temple with the Oregon Fire Marshall's office said Tuesday.

Advisories for elevated fire potential and activity have been issued across Idaho, California, Oregon and the Northern Rockies, according to NIFC.

It's not just fires in the US contributing to the smokey haze. The Canadian province of British Columbia declared a state of emergency due to wildfires there that will go into effect Wednesday. Nearly 300 active wildfires have been reported in the province.

In Oregon, record-breaking, triple-digit temperatures and severe drought have devastated parts of the state.

"There's absolutely no question that climate change is playing out for before our eyes," Brown said at a news conference Tuesday. "We saw the heat dome event a few weeks ago; we unfortunately lost a lot of Oregonians through that event. In February, we saw devastating ice storms, over a half a million people lost power last fall, as you are well aware; we've had unprecedented wildfires."

He said it's possible that another 50,000 to 100,000 acres could burn before the Bootleg Fire is contained.

"The future for us for the remainder of the season continues to look above normal dry and above normal temperatures," Graffe said. "So this is not going to return to normal anytime soon."

CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said Red Flag warnings in the area will continue through Wednesday, signaling dry and windy conditions with lots of smoke. After Thursday, the skies will clear, which could help slow the fire's spread.

As a result of the fires, 62 members of the Oregon National Guard have been deployed, along with Blackhawk helicopters to provide water drops, fire spotting and medivac support, Major General Michael E. Stencel, Adjutant General of the Oregon National Guard said.

In addition to feeding fires, Oregon's hot, dry conditions are also impacting Christmas trees grown in the state.

"It's killing them," Jacob Hemphill, a Christmas tree farmer in Clackamas County, said of the relentless heat this summer. "It's horrible, there is nothing we can do."

Unusually warm temperatures and severe dryness this year have caused irreversible burns on many trees, resulting in fewer trees to choose from this upcoming holiday season as well as potentially higher prices, growers said.

California's Dixie Fire may have been sparked by electrical equipment

The Dixie Fire is so intense, it produced a thunderstorm, Incident Meteorologist Julia Ruthford said in a briefing Monday night. "The fire actually generated a thunderstorm over itself that led to some lightning out ahead of it and some really gusty and erratic winds due to that extreme, extreme conditions due to the thunderstorm overhead," she said.

Evacuations have been ordered in the area and the fire already destroyed two structures and threatens more than 800 others.

In a preliminary filing with the California Public Utilities Commission, PG&E detailed an outage alert July 13, the same day the fire started. A responding utility worker found three blown fuses and a tree leaning into a pole, with a small fire on the ground near the base of the tree.

The fire was reported to authorities and California Fire and Protection sent aerial firefighters to douse the flames, which had jumped from an initial estimate of 1-2 acres, to 10-15, according to the filing.

Since then, the fire has grown exponentially, burning in "remote areas with limited access and steep terrain," Cal Fire said, which is hampering access by ground crews.

A lightning strike near the Alpine County, California, community of Markleeville started the fire, which has triggered mandatory evacuations for a number of campgrounds and neighborhoods in the area, and prompted road closures.

-

Related Articles

HOT TRENDS

Dodgers Swing All-Time Deal for Scherzer, Turner

by 24USATVJuly 30, 2021, 6 a.m.2
HOT TRENDS

Suni Lee and an epochal moment for Hmongs in America

by 24USATVJuly 30, 2021, 6 a.m.2
HOT TRENDS

How to Watch the Gold Cup: Mexico vs. Canada

by 24USATVJuly 30, 2021, 3 a.m.2
HOT TRENDS

NBA Honors Memory of Terrence Clarke During 2021 Draft

by 24USATVJuly 30, 2021, 3 a.m.2
HOT TRENDS

Cubs Trade Anthony Rizzo to Yankees, Twitter Reacts

by 24USATVJuly 30, 2021, 3 a.m.2
HOT TRENDS

Warriors draft F Jonathan Kuminga from the Congo at No. 7

by 24USATVJuly 30, 2021, 2 a.m.2
HOT TRENDS

Yankees acquire All-Star slugger Rizzo from Cubs

by 24USATVJuly 30, 2021, 2 a.m.2