This post was originally published on July 20, 2021, and has been updated.
As of July 26, 85 large fires have been spreading across 13 states in the US—burning across 1.5 million acres of land thus far, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Eight of these fires were intense enough to create pyrocumulus clouds. Over the course of this year, 2,770,454 acres have burned due to 36,467 separate wildfires. These fires have followed record drought and heatwave conditions across the western US, and have so far crushed towns and communities in their wake. As far east as New York, the resulting wildfire haze has led to dangerous air quality levels.
Fires have become more and more hazardous in today’s climate—largely due to climate change, the lack of controlled natural burns over the past century, and an increasingly dry and extended fire season throughout the western US and Canada. Fire containment is a key part of managing fires and consists of creating a manmade or natural barrier around the perimeter of a fire. However, within this perimeter, fire may still be burning for months, so even 100 percent containment doesn’t mean the fire has vanished.
Important fires to keep an eye on right now
Bootleg fire in Oregon
The Bootleg fire, discovered July 6, is currently the most dramatic actively burning fire; it has made its way through 409,611 acres as of July 26. It has been scouring Oregon for the past three weeks and has led to atmospheric and weather changes like unpredictable winds and firestorms. The massive fire was estimated to burn through 1,000 acres every hour last week, and increasingly severe weather is not helping to control the massive fire. As of yesterday, the fire is 53 percent contained.
Dixie fire in California
California’s giant utility Pacific Gas and Electric has admitted to potentially sparking this fire, due to equipment failure. Since the fire’s discovery on July 13, 197,487 acres, or an area around half the size of New York City, have burned across Northern California engulfing entire homes in its wake. Currently, 22 percent of the fire is contained.
Snake River Complex fire in Idaho
The Snake River complex contains Shovel Creek, Captain John Creek, and Hoover Ridge fires, and was only discovered July 9. Still, in the past 15 days, 107,679 acres have burned and 85 percent of the fire is now contained. Local news sources state that the firefighters will continue to patrol the area for hot spots.
Beckwourth Complex Fire in California
The Beckwourth complex of fires contains both the Dotta and Sugar fires, and has been burning through California since July 3. 105,670 acres have burned as of July 19; currently, 98 percent of the fire is contained.
Lick Creek fire on Oregon and Washington border
Discovered on July 7, the Lick Creek fire has been contained by around 90 percent as of July 26. Over the last week and a half, the fire burned down 80,392 acres just north of the Oregon border. The Dry Gulch fire joined with the Lick Creek fire on July 8 and the pair is currently being fought as one fire. The nearby Silcott fire is now 100 percent contained, and the Green Ridge fire to the southwest has burned through around 6,799 acres and is only 15 percent contained.
Tamarack Fire in Nevada
The Tamarack fire has burned through 67,764 acres of land since its beginning on July 4. High winds beginning on July 16 have caused the fire to rapidly spread, and now 45 percent is contained.