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Smoke From Western Wildfires Reaches East Coast

They've been sending columns of smoke 6 miles up in the air
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 21, 2021 11:40 AM CDT

(Newser) – Wildfires in the American West, including one burning in Oregon that's currently the largest in the US are creating hazy skies as far away as New York as the massive infernos spew smoke and ash into the air in columns up to 6 miles high. Skies over New York City were hazy Tuesday as strong winds blew smoke east from California, Oregon, Montana, and other states, the AP reports. Oregon's Bootleg Fire grew to 616 square miles—half the size of Rhode Island. Fires also grew on both sides of California's Sierra Nevada. In Alpine County, the so-called California Alps, the Tamarack Fire caused evacuations of several communities and grew to 61 square miles with no containment.

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The Oregon fire has ravaged the southern part of the state and has been expanding by up to 4 miles a day, pushed by gusting winds and critically dry weather that's turned trees and undergrowth into a tinderbox. The smoke on the East Coast was reminiscent of last fall, when multiple large fires burning in Oregon in the state's worst fire season in recent memory choked the local skies with pea-soup smoke but also impacted air quality several thousand miles away. "We’re seeing lots of fires producing a tremendous amount of smoke," says David Lawrence, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "By the time that smoke gets to the eastern portion of the country where it’s usually thinned out, there's just so much smoke in the atmosphere from all these fires that it’s still pretty thick.” (The Oregon fire is so big that it's changing the weather.)

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