The largest wildfire in the United States continued to burn Thursday in southern Oregon, but lower winds and higher humidity were assisting firefighting crews. In Northern California, a fire spread to the neighboring state of Nevada.
Oregon’s Bootleg Fire grew to 1,616 square kilometers (624 square miles), yet firefighting crews were reportedly improving fire lines.
The fire was also nearing an area burned during a previous fire, giving officials hope that the lack of fuel would hinder its spread.
“Fire crews and support personnel have made significant progress in containing this fire in the last few days,” Joe Prummer, incident commander trainee of Pacific Northwest Incident Management Team 2, said in a statement. “However, we still have a long road ahead of us to ensure the safety of the surrounding communities.”
In Oregon, 2,000 homes were ordered evacuated and 5,000 were still under threat, The Associated Press reported. No deaths from the fire have been reported.
Smoke and ash were reportedly affecting air quality as far away as the East Coast.
The Oregon fire was started by a lightning strike.
In California, the Tamarack fire, south of Lake Tahoe, has burned 176 square kilometers (68 square miles) and crossed the state line into Nevada.
California power company Pacific Gas & Electric announced a plan to bury 10,000 miles of its power lines to prevent tree falls from starting fires.
The cost of burying what amounts to 10% of the company’s power lines could be $15 billion to $30 billion. That cost was expected to be passed along to PG&E customers, who already pay among the highest electricity rates in the nation.
The announcement came after the company said a tree’s plunge onto a power line might have ignited a major fire.
PG&E’s poorly maintained equipment was blamed for devastating fires in 2017 and 2019, leading to the company’s bankruptcy filing in 2019.
Since emerging from bankruptcy, the company has faced criticism for not addressing the problem of trees near its power lines, which it has promised to fix.
Some information in this report came from The Associated Press.