Crews were forced to flee fire-lined areas late Thursday night after a hazardous "fire cloud" began to fall, threatening them and their lives with strong downdrafts or flying embers. A preliminary Friday review revealed that the Bootleg Fire had destroyed 67 homes in one county and 117 outbuildings. The losses in another county were being counted by authorities. There, the flames are raging at 4 miles (6 km) per day.
Holly Krake, a fire spokesperson, said that the blaze has caused 2,000 people to flee and threatened 5,000 buildings. These include small structures and homes in rural areas north of the California border. She said active flames are rising along the fire's perimeter for 200 miles (322 km). It is expected to merge with another smaller but just as explosive fire by nightfall.
The Bootleg Fire covers 377 square miles (976 km2), which is more than New York City's area. It is also large and uncontained.
Krake stated that fire growth will continue over miles and miles worth of active fire lines. "We continue to add thousands of acres per day, and it has potential every day, looking ahead into the weekend to continue those 3-to-4-mile runs."
For a week, firefighters have been unable to get to work due to inferno. The inferno caused erratic winds and dangerous fire behavior.
Krake stated that the fire-induced clouds are expected to persist and get worse over the weekend.
The fire grew rapidly and doubled in size within a few days. Thursday's strong winds pushed the flames even faster. Friday was expected to see similar winds of up to 30 mph (48 km/h).
It is burning an area north-west of the California border, which has been ravaged by extreme drought like the majority of the American West.
Extremely dry conditions, heat waves linked to climate change have made it difficult to fight wildfires. The West has become warmer and dryer over the past 30 year due to climate change. Wildfires will be more common and more destructive in the future.
The fire was most active along its northeastern flank. It was pushed by winds to the south towards the rural communities of Summer Lake or Spring Lake. Paisley, which was to the east of fire, was also at threat. The entire population of Lake County is approximately 8,000. It contains all the towns.
As wildfires take hold in the West, the Bootleg Fire is just one of several major fires that are currently burning in Washington, Oregon, and California. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, there were 70 active large fires or complexes of multiple fires, which have burned close to 1,659 sq miles (4,297 km) in the U.S.
Firefighters in the Pacific Northwest say they are experiencing conditions that are more like late summer or autumn than early July.
Around 200 firefighters battled the Red Apple Fire, which raged for 17 miles (44 kilometers) near Wenatchee, Washington. Officials said that although the flames threatened apple orchards, and an electrical substation but no buildings were destroyed.
California's Tamarack Firein Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest grew quickly to 2.5 miles (6.5 kilometers) Friday. This prompted evacuations in Markleeville, Alpine County. The blaze forced Saturday's Death Ride to be cancelled a 103-mile (165.76 km) bicycle ride through the so-called California Alps, over three Sierra Nevada mountain passes.