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The largest wildfire in the US is only 7% contained as more evacuations take place

The fire, which began July 6 in the Fremont-Winema National Forest and on private lands near the town of Sprague River in Oregon, has charred 227, 235 acres, according to InciWeb, the clearinghouse for wildfire information across the country.

The fire has also impacted transmission lines used to import electricity to California, officials said.

“This fire is going to continue to grow — the extremely dry vegetation and weather are not in our favor,” said Joe Hessel, an incident commander for the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Bootleg is one of nine wildfires currently burning in Oregon, which was recently baked in the historic heatwave that swept across the West.

The fire has destroyed at least 21 homes and put another 2,000 at risk, state fire officials said.

The severity has led California officials to send even more firefighting resources to the state.

“California’s latest mutual aid deployment to Oregon comes just a day after the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group elevated the National Preparedness Level to Level 5 — its highest level — due to high fire activity across the country and resources committed to large fires,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office said in a news release.

“Climate change impacts are contributing to wildfires that are increasingly dangerous and destructive across the Western U.S.,” he said.

Dee McCarley hugs her cat Bunny, whom she took with her while evacuating from the Bootleg Fire on July 14, 2021.

But Oregon is facing another problem that could hinder firefighting efforts: jet fuel shortages.

This California firefighter has been on the job 25 years. He's seen firsthand how wildfires have worsened

Lake County Airport in Oregon was unable to refill its Jet A aviation fuel supply until Wednesday after running out on Sunday, the county’s sheriff’s office said in a news release. The airport is home to a helibase where the helicopters fighting the Bootleg Fire refuel and fly out to battle the blaze, said Jamie Knight, public information officer for the Bootleg Fire.

A cloud caused by the Bootleg Fire drifts into the air north of the Bootleg Fire forward operating base in Bly, Oregon, on July 15, 2021.

The airport manager placed an order for fuel six days earlier, but delivery was delayed due to a national shortage, the sheriff’s office said.

Fortunately, the shortages haven’t yet impacted firefighting, Knight said, adding that Jet A is a type of aviation fuel used in turbine engines, air tankers and helicopters.

“We have had close to critical shortages,” Knight said. “We haven’t had a point where lack of fuel has stopped operations.”

Ocean Air Aviation delivered 3,500 gallons of Jet A on Wednesday, and Lake County’s supplier, Phillips 66, is expected to bring 8,500 more gallons of Jet A fuel Friday, the sheriff’s office said.

Wildfires continue to tear through the West

As of Thursday, the United States was grappling with 71 fires and complexes that have burned 993,678 acres so far, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

In addition to the nation’s largest in Oregon, the Log Fire was sparked northeast of The Bootleg Fire and has charred nearly 5,000 acres.

In Washington state, the fast-moving Red Apple Fire in Chelan County that began July 13 has burned 11,000 acres and remains 10% contained, according to Inciweb.

Authorities have placed 1,500 homes are under evacuation notifications, the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

The Bootleg Fire night crew listens to a briefing at their operating base in Bly, Oregon, on July 15, 2021.

Meanwhile, California’s Butte County is battling the Dixie Fire, which has grown to 2,200 acres with no containment, according to CAL Fire. Residents there are also under evacuation warnings.

Joe Sutton, Amanda Watts, Chris Boyette and Andy Rose contributed reporting.

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