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Large wildfires still burning millions of acres out West

13 states nationwide reporting large fires

Dozens of large wildfires are still scorching land in more than a dozen states across the country. Eleven of these states are in the West.

As of Thursday, these 79 large fires had burned almost 1.5 million acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Bootleg fire

The Bootleg fire in southern Oregon is the largest in the country, first reported on July 6. Seventeen days later, it’s almost 400,000 acres in size and 40% contained. This is based on an early Friday morning report from InciWeb, the National Fire Information Center’s website

Much of the fire is confined to the Fremont-Winema National Forest, approximately 11 miles northeast of Sprague River. However, people have evacuated a number of small towns near the fire’s perimeter. Officials said Wednesday that the fire likely started as a result of a lightning strike, as did 22 of the other 79 large fires.

Smoke from the fire is highly visible from Oregon State Highway 140, Sprague River Highway and the town of Chiloquin. Drivers should expect increased traffic in the area from fire equipment, and officials are asking everyone to drive extra carefully in the area. On some local roads, traffic is allowed for evacuation and emergency services only due to low visibility from the smoke.

Although the weather will be fairly hot and very dry Friday across the fire area, crews are hoping to make some progress with containment as winds remain light.

Dixie fire

The Dixie fire is the second largest in the nation. It covered 113,000 acres as of early Friday morning and was only 18% contained.

Beckwourth complex

The Beckwourth complex fire is the third largest in the nation. It covered almost 106,000 acres as of Thursday evening and, fortunately, was 98% contained.

Tamarack fire

The Tamarack fire is much smaller than the three previously mentioned. However, it’s spreading quickly and was only 4% contained as of Thursday evening.

It started on July 4 in eastern California, south of Lake Tahoe, and has crossed U.S. Highway 395 into western Nevada. This is one of the other fires sparked by lightning. The fire could spread more Friday as humidity remains low along with breezy conditions.

Other notable weekend weather

Drivers will likely hit areas of heavy monsoonal rain and flash flooding in the Desert Southwest and Four Corners area. The National Weather Service has flash flood watches in place for the Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, and Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico, metropolitan areas, as well as southern Utah and portions of western Colorado. Watch for potential periodic road closures on the Interstate 10, 40 and 70 corridors.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in February 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” eight consecutive years.