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Wildfires: Oregon limits state park campfires east of I-5 as thousands battle Northwest blazes

A bear cub clings to a tree amid the Bootleg Fire.
A bear cub clings to a tree amid the Bootleg Fire.

The Northwest Interagency Coordination Center reported Wednesday that there were 14 uncontained large fires in the Pacific Northwest, with seven each in Oregon and Washington. Some 6,600 people are involved in firefighting efforts in those two states as the blazes scorch more than 625,000 acres.

On Wednesday, the Oregon Department of Forestry announced that starting Thursday, campfires will be temporarily banned in all state parks and forests east of Interstate 5 because of the fire danger. That includes designated fire rings and pits in campgrounds.

Here’s a look at the major fires and other related news items:

Bootleg Fire: In the last official report Wednesday morning, the blaze covered 394,407 acres and containment was at 32%. Weather conditions were favorable Wednesday for efforts to secure the existing fire line, officials said.

Elbow Creek Fire: This blaze 17 miles northwest of Wallowa was estimated at 18,599 acres and was 20 percent contained as of 11 a.m. Wednesday. According to a statement from the incident commander for the northeast Oregon fire, “The fire’s increasing complexity and growth has moved it up on the priority scale with other fires in the region. The higher ranking should provide more opportunity to acquire additional resources within the next few days.” More information can be found here.

The enormity of the U.S. West’s wildfire challenge has brought worldwide attention. Australia is sending an air tanker to assist with firefighting:

Meanwhile, smoke from Western fires is reportedly making its way all the way to New York. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tweeted out a video showing the path of the smoke plumes:

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Bob Payne