The dozens of wildfires burning in the West aren’t just causing extensive damage, they’re also taking a toll on the thousands of firefighters battling the blazes.
“It really doesn’t ever end,” firefighter Zachary Resnick said. “The fires are outpacing the resources, period. And it’s just a snowballing effect and it’s July — not even August or September yet — so what are we going to do when we’re stretched so thin?”
Resnick said his hotshot crew used to get a break fighting wildfires from late November to late spring. Now, they’re on duty nearly year-round.
“It’s go go go go go, get this thing out and get everybody moving to the next one,” he said.
More than 16,000 firefighters are trying to contain more than 70 wildfires across the West, including the Beckwourth Complex, which has burned more than 95,000 acres as of Wednesday morning, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
In the tiny town of Doyle, near Lake Tahoe, at least 33 structures have been destroyed by the Beckwourth Complex, which is California’s largest active fire. Just eight months ago, another fire in the same town destroyed 21 homes.
North of California, the Bootleg Fire in Oregon is the nation’s biggest at more than 212,000 acres as of Wednesday morning, the U.S. Forest Service said. It’s just 5% contained.
U.S. fire officials reported a shortage of jet fuel, which could ground some of the large planes used to drop retardant on fires if it persists.
Red flag warnings are posted in five states from Northern California to central Montana. Much of the area is facing severe to extreme drought and temperatures are expected to spike again in the coming days.