Wildfires fueled by extreme heat and drought continue to rage across the West Coast. Climate change exacerbates drought and heatwaves that set the stage for massive conflagrations, like the Sugar Fire in Northern California which doubled in size from Friday to Saturday and produced so much smoke and ash that, combined with the dry heat, created its own lightning storm. The Sugar Fire has since merged with other fires to create what is now known as the Beckwourth Complex Fire.
In Oregon, the Bootleg Fire has burned through more than 143,000 acres of southwest Oregon, doubling every day for three consecutive days, with “fire behavior … among the most extreme you can find and firefighters are seeing conditions they have never seen before,” according to an incident commander there. The fire’s extreme behavior prompted officials to take the rare step of arresting people trying to enter or remain in the evacuation zone and threatened transmission lines delivering electricity to California.
In Arizona, two firefighters were killed in a plane crash while responding to a fire northeast of Wikieup Saturday afternoon. (Beckwourth Complex: LA Times $, Sacramento Bee $; Bootleg: Washington Post $, The Oregonian, New York Times $, Bloomberg $, AP; Arrests: Statesman Journal; Plane crash: NBC, CBS, AZ Central, Arizona Family, New York Times $, The Hill; Climate Signals background: Wildfires)