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Cooler Weather Benefitting Crews Battling Oregon's Bootleg Fire: Officials

Newsweek logo Newsweek 7/28/2021 Matthew Impelli
Oregon's Bootleg Fire has grown to over 413,000 acres as of Wednesday, July 28, 2021. Above, a fire warning sign is seen on the side of Oregon Route 140, just south of the Bootleg Fire on July 25, 2021 near Lakeview, Oregon. © Mathieu Lewis-Rolland/Getty Oregon's Bootleg Fire has grown to over 413,000 acres as of Wednesday, July 28, 2021. Above, a fire warning sign is seen on the side of Oregon Route 140, just south of the Bootleg Fire on July 25, 2021 near Lakeview, Oregon.

The Bootleg Wildfire in Oregon has grown to over 413,000 acres and officials said on Wednesday that the cooler and more humid weather conditions have been "beneficial" for fire crews.

According to a recent update on the InciWeb national wildfire information system, the Bootleg Fire has burned 413,400 acres and it is currently 53 percent contained. The Bootleg Fire was first reported by officials on July 6 and is located in Oregon's Fremont-Winema National Forest, located roughly 28 miles northeast of Klamath Falls. The Bootleg Fire was caused by lightning, according to officials.

In the update on Wednesday, Bootleg Fire incident meteorologist and emergency response specialist at the National Weather Service's Central Region Headquarters Chris Foltz, said, "The cooler temperatures and precipitation yesterday were a welcome change."

Foltz continued in the update, "A wetting rain fell yesterday dropping as much as 0.6 of an inch on the western area of the fire. The eastern side was a bit drier, but still received a tenth of an inch. Not all areas of the fire received rain, but overall the cooler, more humid conditions are beneficial for the firefighting crews."

According to the Wednesday update, rainfall and clouds kept humidity levels above 60 percent in areas near the fire, which officials said, "significantly moderated fire behavior." While cooler temperatures and precipitation benefited fire crews on Tuesday and Wednesday, officials said in the update that "warmer temperatures will return and humidity will decrease starting today and over the next few days."

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Video: Oregon's Bootleg fire burns more than 143,000 acres (The Washington Post)

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As the Bootleg Fire has continued to grow, it has destroyed numerous structures and vehicles in its path. In a Tuesday update posted on InciWeb, fire officials said the Bootleg Fire destroyed at least 161 homes, 247 outbuildings and 342 vehicles.

"These numbers may increase as firefighters and surveyors continue to work through the interior of the fire," officials said on Tuesday.

The Bootleg Fire has also prompted numerous evacuations and has forced the Fremont-Winema National Forest to close down as crews work to contain the blaze. A full updated map of evacuations can be found here.

While speaking about the Bootleg Fire on CNN's State of the Union, Oregon Governor Kate Brown said, "The harsh reality is that we're going to see more of these wildfires...They're hotter, they're more fierce, and obviously much more challenging to tackle. And they are a sign of the changing climate impacts."

"Climate change is here, it's real, and it's like a hammer hitting us in the head. And we have to take action," Brown added.

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