A wildfire in southern Oregon has torched an area larger than New York City and destroyed 20 houses.
The Bootleg Fire, the largest wildfire currently burning in the United States, threatened 2,000 structures in an area just north of California that’s been gripped by a historic drought.
Tim and Dee McCarley could see trees exploding into flames in their rearview mirror as they fled the fire last week at the last minute.
They had put off their departure to pack more belongings and search for their missing cat.
The couple said the local sheriff’s department had told them that if they didn’t get out, they wouldn’t survive.
Tim McCarley was allowed to return briefly after the fire had passed over their rural community northwest of Bly.
The flames had crept within 5 feet of their house, the heat melting their trailer and storage units until they looked “like a melted beer can,” he told The Associated Press in a phone interview.
The blaze is just one of nearly 70 active wildfires that have destroyed homes and burned through about 1,562 square miles – a combined area larger than Rhode Island – in a dozen mostly Western states, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
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