An iPhone photograph of the smoke plume from the Two Bulls Fire, as seen from Bend, Oregon on Saturday, June 7, 2014. (Photograph: © Vicky Sama) |See update below| My good friend and colleague, Vicky Sama, texted me this evening with a photo she shot with her iPhone near Bend Oregon showing smoke from a wildfire blazing in brush and timber about 10 miles northwest of town. At first I didn't pay it that much heed. Wildfires are, of course, a normal part of the ecology throughout the West. Then she sent another photo. And a few others. They got my attention. So I checked the satellite imagery and lo and behold...
In this animation of images from a GOES weather satellite, look for the birth of a huge smoke plume to the left of center. The entire state of Oregon is visible, so you can get a sense of scale. The conflagration has been officially dubbed the Two Bulls Fire. As I'm writing this just after midnight on Sunday it is about 250 acres in size. This part of the state is in moderate drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which may have contributed to a fairly rapid spread of the fire. According to KTVZ TV, 190 homes on the outskirts of Bend have been evacuated, with "thousands more" being warned to be ready to leave their homes quickly if the fire continues to spread. | Update 9 a.m. PDT, Sunday, June 8: The fire grew to more than 6,000 acres overnight (although some of that is from better mapping of the blaze). Two hundred and fifty homes have been evacuated, and the residents of 2,000 others have been told to be ready to leave quickly, according to KTVZ TV. | Earlier in the evening the National Weather Service was forecasting an upsurge in winds to 20 knots, but then calmer conditions for Sunday. So we'll see how much the fire grows. Given it's proximity to Bend, a town of about 80,000 people, we can only hope that fire crews quickly get a handle on the blaze. In the meantime, I thought I'd share more of Vicky Sama's dramatic photographs. They're a reminder that those of us who live in the West should not take fire for granted.
An iPhone panorama of the Two Bulls Fire. Click to enlarge. (Photo: © Vicky Sama)
The light of sunset shining through smoke bloodies the skies over Bend Oregon, as seen in this iPhone photo taken on Saturday evening, June 7, 2014. (Photo: © Vicky Sama)
The Two Bulls Fire, as seen from a walking bridge over the Deschutes River. Click to enlarge panorama. (Photo © Vicky Sama)
The Two Bulls Fire is named after two fires that combined into one just outside Bend, Oregon on Saturday. (Photo: © Vicky Sama)