PAISLEY, Ore (CBS SF/CNN) — As the Bootleg Fire raced across the Oregon wilderness, the weather system it generated was so violent and turbulent that it churned to life a tornado that ripped massive trees out of the ground and left them piled like used matchsticks.
That’s according to Derek Williams, a meteorologist assigned to the federal strike team battling the blaze that grew to over 400,000 acres Sunday and was 46 percent contained.READ MORE: Oakland Ties 2020 Homicide Total in First 9 Months of 2021
Over the weekend, Williams posted on Facebook photos of the July 18th tornado’s destructive path on the eastern edge of the fire. While the twister has been confirmed by the National Weather Service in Medford, it will take time to determine just how intense it was. But the photos show acres of trees tossed about.
“This tornado was created from extreme fire behavior, dry fuels, and unstable atmosphere,” the U.S. Forest Service said in the post.
Despite the efforts of firefighters battling the fire, the raging flames of the nation’s largest wildfire continued to spread over the weekend. The fire has scorched 408,930 acres as of Sunday, an expansion of more than 6,000 acres since Friday.
“This fire is resistant to stopping at dozer lines,” said Jim Hampton, a fire behavior analyst. “With the critically dry weather and fuels we are experiencing, firefighters are having to constantly re-evaluate their control lines and look for contingency options,” he noted in a statement posted on InciWeb, the clearinghouse for wildfire information in the US.READ MORE: Advocates for Immigrant Rights March From Santa Rosa to Healdsburg
Additionally, smoke and haze from other nearby fires lingered Sunday as temperatures remained warmer.
“The smoke is expected to keep temperatures down a couple degrees … which may help overall fire activity. Unfortunately, this smoke may impede air operations on the fire,” according to InciWeb.
The rapid spread of the fire put more than 2,000 people in the surrounding area under some form of evacuation orders as the blaze has grown to become Oregon’s third-largest since 1900.
“It’s kind of a dubious honor,” Oregon Department of Forestry spokesperson Marcus Kauffman said of the fire that was started July 6 by lighting.MORE NEWS: Pelosi Expects House to Pass Infrastructure Bill This Week
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