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Bootleg Fire in Oregon creating 'fire clouds' of dangerous smoke and ash

In a worst case, the clouds can spawn fire tornadoes and generate their own lightning.
Credit: AP
In this photo taken with a drone provided by the Bootleg Fire Incident Command, a pyrocumulus cloud, also known as a fire cloud, is seen over the Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon on Wednesday, July 14, 2021. Smoke and heat from a massive wildfire in southeastern Oregon are creating "fire clouds" over the blaze — dangerous columns of smoke and ash that can reach up to 30,000 feet and are visible for more than 100 miles away. Authorities have put these clouds at the top of the list of the extreme fire behavior they are seeing on the Bootleg Fire, the largest wildfire burning in the U.S. (Bootleg Fire Incident Command via AP)

PORTLAND, Ore. — Smoke and heat from the massive Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon are creating so-called fire clouds over the blaze. Those are dangerous columns of smoke and ash that can reach up to 6 miles in the sky and are visible from more than 100 miles away. 

These clouds are especially dangerous because they can collapse and cause hot winds and embers to fall on firefighters working below. 

An even more extreme type of fire-induced cloud that can can create its own weather also formed over the Bootleg Fire this week. In a worst case, those spawn fire tornadoes and generate their own lightning.

The Bootleg Fire is the largest wildfire in the nation at more than 241,000 acres.

Credit: AP
In this photo provided by the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshall, flames and smoke rise from the Bootleg fire in southern Oregon on Wednesday, July 14, 2021. (John Hendricks/Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal via AP)

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