BLY, Oregon (AP) – The largest wildfire in the United States set ablaze a drier forest landscape in Oregon on Sunday, one of dozens of major fires burning in the West as conditions in Extremely dangerous fires are looming in the coming days.

The destructive Bootleg fire just north of the California border reached over 476 square miles (1,210 square kilometers), an area the size of Los Angeles.

Erratic winds fueled the blaze, creating unsafe conditions for firefighters, said John Flannigan, section chief of the 2,000-person force fighting the blazes.

“The weather is really against us,” he said. “It’s going to be dry and the air is going to be unstable.

Authorities have expanded evacuations that now affect some 2,000 residents of a largely rural area of ​​lakes and wildlife refuges. The 22 percent fire burned down at least 67 homes and 100 outbuildings while threatening thousands more.

Across the state, a fire in the mountains of northeastern Oregon reached more than 17 square miles (44 square kilometers) on Sunday.

The Elbow Creek fire that started Thursday caused evacuations in several small isolated communities around the Grande Ronde River about 50 kilometers southeast of Walla Walla, Wash. It was 10% content.

The region’s natural features act as a funnel for the wind, fueling the flames and making them unpredictable, officials said.

In California, a growing wildfire south of Lake Tahoe hit a highway, prompting more evacuation orders, the closure of the Pacific Crest Trail, and the cancellation of an extreme bike ride through the Sierra Nevada. .

The Tamarack fire, started by lightning on July 4, had charred nearly 74 square kilometers of dry brush and wood by Sunday morning. The fire threatened Markleeville, a small town near the California-Nevada border. He destroyed at least two structures, authorities said.

A notice posted on the 165-kilometer Death Ride website on Saturday said several communities in the area had been evacuated and ordered all cyclists to clear the area. The blaze left thousands of bikers and spectators stranded in the small town and scrambled out.

Kelli Pennington and her family were camping near town on Friday so her husband could go on his ninth hike when told to leave. They had watched the smoke build up during the day, but were taken aback by the rapid spread of the fire.

“It happened so fast,” Pennington said. “We left our tents, hammock and some food, but we got most of our stuff, pushed our two children into the car and drove off. “

About 500 firefighters were fighting the blazes on Sunday, “focusing on the preservation of life and property with one-time protection of structures and the placement of containment lines where possible,” the US Forest Service said.

Meteorologists predicted an extremely dangerous fire weather with possible lightning strikes at least until Monday in California and southern Oregon.

“With very dry fuels, any thunderstorm has the potential to trigger new fires,” the National Weather Service of Sacramento, Calif., Said on Twitter.

Extremely dry conditions and heat waves linked to climate change swept through the region, making forest fires more difficult to fight. Climate change has made the West much hotter and drier over the past 30 years and will continue to make weather more extreme and forest fires more frequent and destructive.

Firefighters said in July they were facing conditions more typical of late summer or fall.

The Dixie Fire in northern California resumed life on Sunday, prompting new evacuation orders in rural communities near the Feather River Canyon. The wildfire, near the 2018 site of the deadliest U.S. blaze in recent memory, was 15% contained and covered 39 square miles. The blaze is northeast of the town of Paradise, California, and the survivors of this blaze terrible fire that killed 85 people watched the new fire burn warily.

Montana authorities have identified a firefighter who was badly burned when the flames passed a crew fighting a small blaze there. Dan Steffensen was airlifted to a Salt Lake City hospital after the winds suddenly turned on Friday, engulfing his fire truck near the Wyoming border. A second firefighter escaped unscathed and called for help.

There have been about 70 large active fires and multiple fire complexes that have burned nearly 1,659 square miles (4,297 square kilometers) in the United States, the National Interagency Fire Center said. The US Forest Service said at least 16 major fires were burning in the Pacific Northwest alone.

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