New York: After baking in weeks of searing heat, the West is erupting in fierce wildfires so strong the smoke was visible July 20 on the East Coast in cities such as New York and Washington, D.C.
Air quality alerts were issued for New York City on Tuesday, and the National Weather Service urged sensitive groups to remain indoors.
More than 75 wildfires have already scorched more than 1 million acres in 13 states. On Tuesday, 3 million people remained under red flag warnings blanketing eight states across the Northwest and the northern Plains, including the area of the Bootleg Fire in Oregon, currently the largest fire this year.
Now classified as a megafire, or a fire burning more than 100,000 acres, the Bootleg Fire has blazed over 350,000 acres, which is about half the size of Rhode Island, and was only 30 percent contained as of TuesdayWildfire growth and spread are expected to intensify through the week as yet another major heat wave roasted the high Plains and the Rocky Mountains, peaking Monday. Triple-digit temperatures, combined with humidity as low as 10 percent and wind gusts up to 40 mph, will produce ideal wildfire conditions. An additional major concern is the dry thunderstorms expected to flare along the interior Northwest, producing abundant lightning that could easily spark sun-baked vegetation.