On July 6, lightning sparked a fast-spreading wildfire in southern Oregon that’s now the largest in the country and the state’s third-largest on record. The Bootleg Fire, only recently getting contained after a period of cooler weather, has led more than 2,400 people to evacuate, destroyed at least 161 homes, and sent toxic smoke traveling across the country. The heat of the flames was so intense that it spawned a fire tornado.
Drought and extreme heat have plagued the West this year, combining with a century’s worth of wildfire suppression for an unprecedented fire season. A warming planet makes these giant fires more likely, and people around the world are seeing the flames and smoke, coming months ahead of schedule, as a wake-up call. So what did locals in the largely rural, conservative parts of Oregon’s wildfire country think about the most recent conflagration? Recent reports suggest that many people living near the Bootleg Fire don’t see any connection to rising temperatures.
For those who accept the scientific consensus around climate change, this sounds like a denial of reality. But new research suggests that many conservatives won’t lin... Read more