More than 300,000 acres are burning across six states across the western United States on Sunday as the region battled yet another brutal heat wave that shattered records and strained power grids.
The largest, the so-called Bootleg Fire, burned across 143,607 acres in Oregon and was 0% contained. Officials in neighboring state California asked all residents to reduce power consumption quickly after the fire knocked out interstate power lines, preventing up to 4,000 megawatts of electricity from flowing into the state.
“The Bootleg Fire will see the potential for extreme growth today,” the National Weather Service in Medford, Oregon, said on Twitter, fueled by extreme drought and temperatures near 100 that aren't expected to subside until midweek.
“The fire behavior we are seeing on the Bootleg Fire is among the most extreme you can find and firefighters are seeing conditions they have never seen before," fire incident commander Al Lawson said.
Further south, the equally formidable Beckwourth Complex Fire measured 83,926 acres and was 8% contained in California, edging along the border with Nevada. It's the largest wildfire of the year in the state.
The fire is composed of the Dotta and Sugar fires. The Dotta Fire is approximately 670 acres and 99% contained. The Sugar Fire is 83,256 acres and 8% contained.
It jumped a major highway, U.S. 395 Saturday night, and threatened homes in Nevada's Washoe County. Excessive heat warnings were in place in both Nevada and California as firefighters worked in searing drought weather.
NV Energy, Nevada’s largest power provider, also urged customers to conserve electricity Saturday and Sunday evenings.
Western heat wave: Las Vegas tied all-time high of 117; Palm Springs hits 120
Death Valley in southeastern California’s Mojave Desert reached 128 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service’s reading at Furnace Creek. The shockingly high temperature was actually lower than the previous day, when the location reached 130,
The 130-degree reading, if confirmed, would be the hottest high recorded there since July 1913, when Furnace Creek desert hit 134, considered the highest measured temperature on Earth.
The National Weather Service warned the dangerous conditions could cause heat-related illnesses.
Palm Springs in Southern California hit a record high temperature of 120 Saturday. It was the fourth time temperatures have reached 120 degrees so far this year, the Desert Sun reported.
In California’s agricultural Central Valley, 100-degree temperatures blanketed the region, with Fresno reaching 111 degrees, just one degree short of the all-time high for the date.
Las Vegas on Saturday afternoon tied the all-time high of 117, the National Weather Service said. The city has recorded that record-high temperature four other times, most recently in June 2017.
California's wildfires off to 'a daunting start,' currently outpacing historic 2020 season
2 firefighters dead after responding to Arizona wildfire
Two Arizona firefighters died after a plane responding to a wildfire in the state crashed on Saturday afternoon, according to the federal Bureau of Land Management. The Cedar Story Basin Fire was 700 acres and was 0% contained.
At least four wildfires were burning in southeast Washington, the largest of which was 46,352 acres, as record-breaking temperatures over the past week left the state very dry, according to Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz.
In Idaho, Gov. Brad Little declared a wildfire emergency Friday and mobilized the state’s National Guard to help fight fires sparked after lightning storms swept across the drought-stricken region. The wildfires there had burned a combined 39,000 acres as of Sunday.
And in Montana, several fires throughout the state closed roads and triggered evacuation orders.
Contributing: Zach Urness and Virginia Barreda, Salem Statesman Journal; Kristin Oh, Reno Gazette-Journal; The Associated Press