Dozens of wildfires scorch thousands of acres across the west

Weather

PORTLAND, Ore. (NewsNation Now) — The Bootleg Fire, fueled by winds and bone-dry conditions, has scorched more than 300,000 acres in Oregon.

The fire is roughly the size of Los Angeles but burns in one of the most remote areas of the continental U.S. so evacuations and loss to property have been minimal.

Katy O’hara, who serves as the public information officer for the Bootleg Fire, says extreme drought and high winds are creating changing conditions for firefighters.

“We’re still seeing significant fire activity across the east and northern flank of the fire,” O’hara said.

At least 2,000 homes have been evacuated at some point during the fire and another 5,000 threatened. At least 70 homes and more than 100 outbuildings have gone up in flames. Thick smoke chokes the area where residents and wildlife alike have already been dealing with months of drought and extreme heat. No one has died.

In Northern California, authorities expanded evacuations on the Tamarack Fire in Alpine County in the Sierra Nevada.

John and Ariel Combs lost thier California home in the Beckwourth Complex Fire.

“My kids, they just keep telling me ‘I want to go home. I want to go home,’ said John Combs, “And that’s the hardest part is trying to explain to them there’s no home to go to.

Right now, the husband and wife, plus thier four kids, are staying with a family member.

“I plan to rebuild,” Combs said. “I’m not giving up.”

See the full interview with John Combs in the player below.

Also in California, officials in Plumas County expanded evacuation orders on Monday due to the spread of the Dixie Fire

The Dixie Fire, burning northeast of Paradise, started July 13. By Monday morning, Cal Fire said the fire had burned 30,074 acres and was 15% contained. The fire grew more than 11,000 acres since the last update on Sunday.

Pacific Gas & Electric equipment may have been involved in the start of the big Dixie Fire.

PG&E said in a report Sunday to the California Public Utilities Commission that a repair man responding to a circuit outage on July 13 spotted blown fuses in a conductor atop a pole, a tree leaning into the conductor and fire at the base of the tree.

PG&E equipment has been blamed for sparking some of the state’s deadliest wildfires in recent years, most notably in 2017 and 2018 when a series of wildfires burned down more than 28,000 buildings and killed more than 100 people. It emerged from bankruptcy last year after a series of deadly wildfires ignited by its long-neglected electrical grid prompted it to declare financial insolvency.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said he would wait to comment on the utility’s possible involvement until the investigation is completed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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