Story at a glance

  • The intense smoke and heat from an Oregon wildfire is producing “fire clouds,” also known as pyrocumulus clouds.
  • Fire clouds — plumes of smoke and ash forming in the sky above the fire — can spew ash and embers, and sometimes even lightning, to other areas and further increase the range of the fire.
  • The fire clouds are stemming from the Bootleg Fire, currently the largest wildfire burning in the United States.

The intense smoke and heat from an Oregon wildfire is producing “fire clouds,” also known as pyrocumulus clouds, above the far-ranging fire — creating plumes of smoke and ash that have reached a height of over a mile into the sky.

Fire clouds can spew ash and embers, sometimes even lightning, to other areas and further increase the range of the fire.


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The fire clouds are stemming from the Bootleg Fire, currently the largest wildfire burning in the United States. Low humidity and high wind gusts continue to complicate containment efforts.

“Critical fire weather conditions including gusty southwest winds and low relative humidity are expected Monday afternoon and early evening,” InciWeb reports, adding, “Wind gusts of 30 to 35 mph are possible along with relative humidity dropping into lower to middle teens. … The fire will continue to be extremely active with unstable air conditions and extremely dry fuels.” 

The Bootleg Fire ignited from an undetermined cause on July 6 and has continued to spread and grow since due to the environmental conditions. It has burned more than 303,791 acres, or more than 474 square miles, making the fire larger than all of New York City.


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Published on Jul 19, 2021