PORTLAND, Oregon — Ecologists in a vast area of wetlands and forest in remote Oregon have spent the past decade attempting to restore thick stands of ponderosa to a less fire-prone state by thinning young trees and using planned fires.
This week, the nation’s largest burning wildfire provided them with an unexpected, real-world experiment. As Rhode Island’s massive half-size Saikon roared at Marsh Preserve, firefighters said the flames jumped less from treetop to treetop and instead returned to the ground, where they were easier to fight, more slowly. – Gone slowly and did less damage Total Jungle.
Preliminary evaluations show that several years of forest remediation worked, said Pete Calliguri, Oregon Forest Program director for The Nature Conservancy, which runs research into conservation.
“Typically, what firefighters were reporting on the ground is that when the fire came to areas that were subdued … the impact was significantly less.”
The report was bittersweet for researchers, who still saw about 51.7 square kilometers of protected burn, but the findings add to a growing body of research into how to make wildfires less explosive and allow forests to burn over time. goes away – as they would naturally do – instead of smelling every flame.
The bootleg fire, which is now 1,569 square kilometers in size, ravaged southern Oregon and is the fourth largest fire in the state’s modern history. It is expanding up to 6 kilometers a day, pushed by strong winds and severely dry weather that has turned into trees and the tinderbox below.
Firefighters had to retreat from the flames for 10 days in a row as fireballs jumped from treetop to treetop, bursting trees, embers flying ahead of the fire and launching new blazes, and in some cases, Hell’s heat creates its own season of shifting winds and dry lightning. The monstrous cloud of smoke and ash has risen to 9.6 kilometers in the sky and is visible for more than 185.2 kilometers.
The fire in the Fremont-Winema National Forest merged with a smaller fire nearby on Tuesday, and has repeatedly breached the perimeter of deft dirt and fire retardants intended to halt its progress.
More evacuations were ordered Monday night, and a red flag weather warning indicating dangerous fire conditions was in effect Tuesday. The fire has been brought under control by 30%.
Incident Commander Rob Allen said Tuesday, “We’re at it for as long as it takes to confine this monster safely.”
At least 2,000 homes have been evacuated and another 5,000 are in danger during the fire. At least 70 houses and over 100 buildings have been engulfed in flames. Thick smoke chokes the area where residents and wildlife alike have been battling drought and extreme heat for months. No one has died.
The Bootleg Fire was one of several fires burning in a dozen states, most of them in the West. Sixteen major fires raged on Monday in Oregon and Washington state alone.
Historically, wildfires in Oregon and elsewhere in the US West burned an area as large or larger than current fires, but much less explosively. From time to time, naturally occurring fires cleared underground and small trees, which make today’s fires so dangerously lit.
James Johnston, a researcher at Oregon State University’s College of Forestry who studied historic wildfires, said those fires have not been allowed to burn for the past 120 years.
The area northeast of the Bootleg Fire is in the ancestral homeland of the Klamath tribes, who used deliberate, managed fire to keep fuel loads down and prevent such explosive blasts. Scientists from the Saikon Marsh Research Center now work with the tribe and gain that knowledge.
Johnston said climate change is the catalyst for worsening wildfire seasons in the West, but poor forest management and decades of firefighting policies have made the situation worse.
“My colleagues and I have been predicting massive fires in that area for years. This is an area that is prone to exceptionally devastating fires,” Johnston said. Which is not associated with Sikan Marsh. “It’s dry. It’s prone to fire and always has been. But what has changed in the last 100 years is an extraordinary amount of fuel build-up.”
Elsewhere, firefighters were engaged in other uphill battles.
In Northern California, officials expanded evacuations for the Tamarack Fire in Alpine County in the Sierra Nevada to include the mountain town of Mesa Vista late Monday. The fire, which broke out over the weekend, was 158 square kilometers with no control.
In the western part of the Sierra, the Dixie Fire has scorched 163 square kilometers, threatening small communities in the Feather River Valley region.
Meteorologist Julia Rathford told a briefing that an increase of monsoon moisture from the southwest increased atmospheric instability on Sunday and Monday, forming plumes as high as 9.6 kilometers – so large that the fires created a typhoon on their own. Due to which lightning bolts were broken and strong winds blew.
For the past two days in Oregon, fires have been dancing around the Cycon Marsh, where researchers raced to protect buildings with sprinklers and lines of fire. The 121.7 square kilometer habitat attracts migratory and nesting birds and provides a unique place to conduct research on forest and fire ecology.
The nonprofit operates its own fire engines and maintains federal firefighting certification. Now its three engines and seven firefighters are on fire, with more people arriving from North Carolina and Florida to try to protect.
“It’s a wonderful place,” Caliguri said. “It’s very hard to see all this happening, and to see all that work under threat from this fire is a lot to process.”