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Western wildfires creating their own weather, affecting air quality on the East Coast

Bootleg, Dixie fires causing havoc.
Posted at 10:45 AM, Jul 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-21 13:45:04-04

(KERO) — Officials say one wildfire in Northern California is so big it is generating its own weather. The Dixie Fire has scorched over 61,000 acres in Butte County.

The fire has doubled in size since Monday. Officials say it actually generated a thunderstorm that led to some lightning and erratic winds.

The flames are currently threatening more than 800 buildings. Two have already been destroyed. Evacuations are in place.

That fire is only 15-percent contained.

Firefighters assigned to the Union Pacific fire train are dousing train tracks with water to protect the rails and the surrounding area from the fast-moving fire. Union Pacific has a fleet of about 50 water tank cars that can hold up to 23,000 gallons of water according to the company's website.

Union Pacific has fire trains on its railway lines in California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado.

Meanwhile, the Tamarack Fire still impacting California. Officials say flames from the inferno have scorched more than 39,000 acres. It was zero percent contained as of Tuesday evening.

Local officials have warned residents to prepare for possible evacuations as the fire keeps spreading.

More than 1,100 people are battling the blaze and some roadways have been shut down.

"So many things that - where to begin. You know, a total loss. You just have to walk away like they ask you to," said one resident.

The fire was ignited on July 4th by a bolt of lightning.

As those fires and dozens of others continue to rage out west. The smoke has moved all the way east.

Western wildfire smoke reaches the northeast

Video from a plane landing at New York's La Guardia Airport shows the hazy skies created by wildfire smoke from western wildfires. The smoke-filled air caused poor air quality for at least 40 million Americans.

There are at least 80 large wildfires burning in 13 states. Oregon's Bootleg Fire is the largest at nearly 400,000 acres. At last check, it was 30-percent contained.

The Bootleg Fire has grown so large that its smoke plumes can be seen from right outside the earth's atmosphere.

Bootleg Fire in Oregon creating its own weather

In addition, the Bootleg Fire is now creating its own weather after growing to the size of the state of Rhode Island.

It's a phenomenon known as pyrocumulus clouds and what happens is the fire starts to create its own thunderstorms which could lead to other weather events like lightning and even fire tornadoes.

Crews have had to escape the firefight nine days in a row so far.

Governor Kate Brown of Oregon says it's now the fourth-largest fire in the state since the year 1900.

"After last year, what is very clear is that no corner of our state is immune to fire. On the West Coast and here in Oregon, the urgent and dangerous climate crisis has exacerbated conditions on the ground."

The fire has burned over 388,000 acres and is 32 percent contained. Sventy homes have been destroyed.

The fire also made it difficult to transport power into California, causing flex alerts earlier this month.