|The Bootleg Fire burn area|
(Washington Post map)
Many small-town residents refuse to evacuate, despite pleas from authorities to do so, because they worry about theft, transporting their animals, or that it might be hard to get back home. "We prayed a lot,” Matt Wolff of Sprague River told Partlow. "'Lord, just keep it away.' And so far it stayed that way."
"The fire that is now larger than New York City prompted a furious effort by firefighters to protect vulnerable communities to the south and east of the spreading flames," Partlow reports. "Nearly 2,000 firefighters and other personnel are battling the blaze that began July 6. As of Friday morning, just 7 percent of the fire had been contained. No deaths have been reported. Bulldozers have been digging trenches as firebreaks, particularly on the southern flank, to protect the more populated areas, and helicopters have been hauling in bags of water."
Climate change has made the West hotter and dryer, with more than 94% of the region in moderate to exceptional drought conditions. "The conditions for this summer blaze are what firefighters are more accustomed to facing at the end of a hot dry season, said Mark Enty, a spokesman for the Northwest Incident Management Team 10, which is battling the fire," Partlow reports. "Climate change driven by the human burning of fossil fuels has raised the Earth’s temperature an average of about 2 degrees Fahrenheit, a warming that has led to more frequent and extreme natural disasters. Some 800 people died in the recent record-breaking heat waves in the Pacific Northwest and Canada."
The heat wave in Canada is so bad that crops are "baking in fields," Caroline Anders reports for the Post. "Cherries have roasted on trees. Fields of canola and wheat have withered brown. And as feed and safe water for animals grow scarce, ranchers may have no choice but to sell off their livestock."
Canadian farmers have been planning for climate change, but not much can be done if heat waves like the one in late June happen regularly, one expert told Anders. "It will totally upend Canadian food production if this becomes a regular thing," said Lenore Newman, director of the Food and Agriculture Institute at the University of the Fraser Valley in British Columbia. "We can’t farm like this, where there’s a giant disruption every year ... Or we’re going to have to really rethink how we produce food."