Oregon's Bootleg Fire Grows to Over 394k Acres, More Than Half the Size of Rhode Island

The Bootleg Wildfire in Oregon grew to over 394,000 acres overnight, making it now more than half the size of Rhode Island.

According to data posted on the InciWeb national wildfire incident center, the Bootleg Fire has burned at least 394,407 and is currently 32 percent contained.

State acreage data published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that Rhode Island is approximately 788,000 acres. The Bootleg Fire's growth overnight makes it now more than half the size of Rhode Island.

On Tuesday, officials reported that the fire had burned approximately 364,113 and was 30 percent contained. First reported by officials on July 6, the Bootleg Fire's cause remains unknown as officials continue to investigate and work to contain the blaze.

"For ten days in a row, extreme fire behavior in the afternoon and evening has resulted in firefighters moving to safety zones. Yesterday evening, parts of the fire received a trace amount of rain from thunderstorms in the area," fire officials said in an InciWeb update on Tuesday night. "As crews patrol, they look for places to mitigate risks to the controlled line of the fire. Property owners are reminded to use caution when returning; hazardous hot spots and fire-weakened trees remain throughout the area."

Rob Allen, Incident Commander for PNW Incident Management Team 2, which is responding to the Bootleg Fire, said in the update that "fighting this fire is a marathon, not a sprint."

Allen continued, "We're in this for as long as it takes to safely confine this monster."

Officials have continued to update evacuation orders for areas near the fire and a full interactive map showing the different evacuation areas can be found here.

A public information officer for the Bootleg Fire wrote in a statement to Newsweek that "firefighters on the ground as well as Fire Behavior Analysts have observed extreme fire behavior due to critically dry fuel conditions. The dry conditions coupled with high winds and low relative humidity have made the rate of spread of the Bootleg Fire rapid."

"If we unfolded the perimeter of the fire, the line would extend nearly 304 miles long," the statement said.

While speaking with The New York Times on Monday, Oregon Department of Forestry spokesman Marcus Kauffman said that the Bootleg Fire "is so large and generating so much energy and extreme heat that it's changing the weather."

"Normally the weather predicts what the fire will do. In this case, the fire is predicting what the weather will do," Kauffman told the Times.

While the Bootleg Fire is currently 32 percent contained, officials have estimated that it won't be fully contained until the late fall.

During a press conference on Tuesday, Doug Grafe, the chief of fire protection for the Oregon Department of Forestry, said that around 90 percent of the state is experiencing a drought, which has led to an heightened wildfire season.

"To see that level [of drought] is really the foundation for why we're at the condition we're at today," Grafe said. "The remainder of the season continues to look above-normal dry and above-normal temperatures.… This is not going to return to normal anytime soon. We're facing a long, difficult fire season."

In addition to the Bootleg Fire, Oregon is battling at least seven other active wildfires. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, the eight active wildfires in Oregon have burned a total of 474,421 acres.

Bootleg Fire
As of July 21, the Bootleg Fire has grown to over 394,000 acres. Above, a helicopter flies with a load of water to the Bootleg Fire, 27 miles northeast of Klamath Falls, near Bly, Oregon, on July 15. Payton Bruni/Getty

Updated July 21, 2021, 11:40 a.m. ET, to include a statement from a public information officer for the Bootleg Fire.