Wildfires are growing across the western U.S., leading to evacuation orders, highway closures and event cancelations — as the threat of “dry lightning” prompts red flag warnings to be issued across California for Sunday.
The latest: As temperatures again rise, 80 large wildfires were burning across nearly 1.2 million acres in the West Sunday — 10 more than the previous day, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
These include 18 in Montana, 17 in Idaho, and nine each in California and Oregon — where the largest blaze in the U.S., the Bootleg Fire, grew even larger to raze land about the size of Los Angeles Sunday.
Threat level: “Multiple weather hazards are affecting the West and these threats will likely continue much of this week,” the National Weather Service forecasts.
“Elevated and critical fire weather conditions and isolated dry thunderstorms will be widespread,” from California to Montana, where “excessive heat will persist through mid to late week,” the NWS said. A red flag warning was in effect for southern Oregon areas affected by the Bootleg Fire, which has scorched 476 square miles and was about 22% contained as of Sunday afternoon, per InciWeb.A red flag warning was in effect across the Northern Rockies, a region now engulfed in a heatwave that threatens to spark new fires.
Of note: Several communities were under evacuation orders from California’s Tamarack Fire, south of Lake Tahoe near the Nevada border, was burning uncontained across 18,299 acres near the town of Markleeville, according to a statement from Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest.
Mandatory evacuation orders forced the Death Ride to cancel its extreme bike event through the Sierra Nevada Saturday, leaving “thousands of bikers and spectators stranded in the small town and racing to get out,” AP reports.The blaze on Saturday saw part of Highway 89 close, at the intersection with Highway 4.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.