The impact of Global warming is being observed across the planet and America is no exception. Ecologists and climate activists have been trying to educate the world about the hazards of thinning younger trees and the extinction of wildlife because of forest cutdowns yet these measures are not enough to combat the problem at hand.

The Bootleg Fire – an unexpected phenomenon that opened the eyes of the world to recognize that the hazards which the ecologists had been warning about are here.

The Bootleg Fire became one of the biggest burning wildfires of America and it proved to be a real-life experiment.

The Bootleg Fire roared massively and covered the land as much as half the size of Rhode Island. It went straight into the Sycan Marsh preserve where the firefighters fought with blazing flames jumping from one treetop to another trying to extinguish the fire as it was easier fighting the fire from treetop than on the ground.

What is a Bootleg Fire and Why is it called that?

The Bootleg Fire was one of the most horrific fires that erupted in America and continued to burn for days covering a large area before being completely contained. One may ask why is it called the Bootleg Fire? Well, it was named Bootleg Fire because it initially erupted at the Bootleg Spring, in Oregon on July 6, 2021.

How did the Bootleg Fire start?

The Bootleg Fire was first reported in the Bootleg Spring near Beatty, Oregon around 1:42 pm. The fire quickly intensified and started to test the firefighting department as the flames started transforming into a blaze, making it tough for the firefighters to extinguish it.

The fire continued to grow, covering land merging with other nearby fires. It became mightier when it merged into another log fire in the east on 19th July 2021.

The Bootleg Fire reached the Mitchell monument in the east. The Mitchell monument is a memorial built in the loving memory of the civilians killed in the United States of America’s 48 states during World War II.

It was very important to protect the scenic as well as a historic site, therefore the firefighters and the other crew members took the decision of trimming the branches of low-hanging trees in order to build a temporary fire line around the site of the memorial monument. 

The fire crews also wrapped the trees using a Japanese balloon bomb explosion which was made of a material similar to the one used in fire fighters’ shelters for an emergency. These balloon explosions were to protect the monument and were built from fire-resistant material.

The technique worked, and the fire went ahead to a nearby forest that was located in the adjacent direction of the memorial, leaving the monument unscathed and undamaged.

Where is the Bootleg Fire in Oregon?

As mentioned earlier, it started from Bootleg Springs located near Beatty, Oregon but continued to roar for days before complete containment. It was a large fire and it burnt approximately 413,765 acres. The Bootleg Fire is named the third biggest fire in the history of Oregon.

It was also the fastest-growing fire in the region. During its peak time, which was in mid-July, it grew at an astonishing rate of approximately 1000 acres per hour. It also became the second-largest fire in the history of the United States of America in the wildfire season of 2021.

How did the Bootleg Fire start?

In the rigorous investigation after the wildfire was contained, it was determined that the Bootleg Fire was caused by lightning.

The wildfire was so intense that it continued to cause a haze across the skies of the United States of America. It caused the sunsets and sunrises to become a vivid red and this phenomenon was observed as far as in the cities of New York City and Boston.

The Bootleg Fire generated pyrocumulonimbus and pyrocumulus clouds along with intense smoke and heat. Some clouds reached the height of 45,000 feet while bringing down precipitation and lightning strikes with them.

Small yet hazardous fire whirls were also reported in the nearby areas while the Bootleg Fire was blazing. The weather officials believe that at least one fire tornado was formulated in the south-eastern part of Oregon while the fire was blazing on its full might on July 18, 2021.

Wildfires in the United States of America

It has been noticed that wildfires in the United States of America, particularly in Oregon, burn down areas where forestation is at large but the Bootleg wildfires were much more explosive. Naturally, the wildfires cleared out on their own, thanks to the built up of precipitous clouds and other weather phenomena attached with wildfires but this one continued to burn dangerously.

People who live near forests know how to keep these recurring wildfires at bay and intentionally try to keep the usage of logs for fuel low in order to prevent such explosive and disruptive blazes.

According to reports, the Klamath tribes live near the north-eastern flank of Bootleg Springs, where the Bootleg Fire erupted initially. It is the ancestral home of the Klamath tribes. The tribes have managed to keep these small fires at bay and for more than 120 years have not let it become such a massive destructive wildfire but this time it couldn’t be curtailed quickly.

Scientists at the Oregon State University’s College of Forestry and Sycan Marsh Research Station have joined hands with the Klamath tribes to work on the prevention and curtailment of such wildfires.

Climate Change and Global Warming

It can be said without much reservation that climatic changes and global warming have impacted the wildfire seasons adversely and a sudden increase has been witnessed in more recent years.

According to a wildfire and forest analyst, Johnson, the poor management and poor choices of wildfire suppression have fueled up the situation, making it worse.

“My colleagues and I have been predicting a massive fire in that area for years. It’s an area that’s exceptionally prone to catastrophic fire,” said Johnston. “It’s dry. It’s fire-prone and always has been. But what’s changed over the past 100 years is an extraordinary amount of fuel buildup.”

He further said that this also jeopardizes the lives of firefighters who get engaged in these daunting battles of extinguishing wildfires across America.

Wildfire season is not new to the United States of America, but the intensity with which it has grown in recent years has alerted the authorities to take notice at a large scale.

For instance, in northern California, the authorities had to expand their evacuations for the recent Tamarack Fire in the Alpine County, Sierra Nevada all the way to the mountain hill town of Mesa Vista. The fire roared at its full blaze, threatening small communities to be wiped out from the surface of the earth if they came in, especially in the region of the feather river valley.

Bootleg Fire Update

Coming back to the Bootleg Fire update, it caused blistering heatwaves across southern Oregon and other nearby regions. It initiated months of drought creating apocalyptic weather of its own.

It even furthered the threat of the climate crisis as the National Interagency Fire Centre declared that the fire conditions have caused a red flag warning.

The National Weather Service in its weather prediction center released two red flags, especially for the evacuation as the wildfire continued to grow and intensify as it moved further.

A red flag in terms of weather language means “critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will shortly.”

The Bootleg Fire created its own weather across southern Oregon as it showcased an “aggressive surface spread with pyrocumulus development.”

Pyrocumulus clouds are usually formulated when the heat intensifies from flames, thanks to the wildfire causing the air to rise rapidly above which generally instigates the process of condensing and cooling as a result of smoke particles or moisture produced by the roaring fire.

One of the meteorologists, Kauffman, had stated that the fire was so large that it generated extreme heat and energy that changed the weather. Normally, it is the weather that predicts what the fire will do but it was the opposite in the case of Bootleg Fire as the fire pretty much predicted and then changed the course of the weather.

The prolonged drought in the region also contributed to the wildfire condition which actually led the wildfire to grow into such a massive blaze.

Bootleg Fire Containment

The Bootleg Fire was finally contained completely on 15th August 2021. There was a time when the Bootleg Fire was so intense that more than 2000 firefighting personnel were fighting to extinguish it.

It spread across miles and miles of southern Oregon, especially in the counties of Lake and Klamath. Due to the severity of the wildfire, many areas were evacuated completely.

About 2000 houses were evacuated while the fire continued to spread across southern Oregon. It was predicted that more than 5000 houses will need to be evacuated before the complete containment of the fire. 

According to the investigative reports, about 408 buildings were completely destroyed by the wildfire which included 247 outbuildings and 161 houses. The Bootleg Fire also burnt and damaged 342 vehicles.

Thankfully no deaths were reported but human nature and wildlife suffered a lot because of the scorching heat, smoke chokes because of the thickness of the smoke, and the months of intense heat and drought.

Final Verdict

The Bootleg Fire is considered one of the most extensive wildfires in recent times. It caused the dynamics of the weather to change completely. The wildfire damaged a lot of land and wildlife, leaving the area barren for multiple years to come. It might take years for the region to become as green as it previously was, before the Bootleg Fire.

This was a real-life experiment for the world to witness the hazardous impact of global warming and climatic change in the world. The thinning of young trees and deforestation have contributed intensively to weather change such as droughts, extreme heat resulting in an eruption of wildfire now and then. 

It is high time to start radical remedial measures to curb any dangerous scenarios such as the Bootleg Fire and maintain liveable conditions in the world before it’s too late.