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Above-Average Wildfire Season Predicted To Continue Through September -- Or Maybe Longer

(CNN) -- With more than 95% of the Western United States in drought, combined with a month's stretch of above-normal temperatures, an outlook released Sunday shows fire season prospects looking grim.

"Above normal significant fire potential is forecast to continue through September for much of the Northwest, Northern Rockies, and northern portions of the Great Basin and Rocky Mountain Geographic Areas," writes the National Interagency Fire Center.

Some places could see this trend extend even longer. "Most mountains and foothills in California are forecast to have above-normal potential through September with areas prone to offshore winds likely to retain above normal potential into October and November in southern California," the fire center said.

The climate crisis has made deadlier and more destructive wildfires the new normal. In more than half the areas in drought across the West, the conditions are considered extreme or exceptional. The fire agency also highlights the dry thunderstorm activity that added to the fire outbreaks in July.

"Lightning activity continued across much of the West and Alaska during July. An abundant dry thunderstorm outbreak occurred on July 7-8 across the interior Northwest and Northern Rockies ignited numerous large fires throughout Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana."

Before, during and after this event, temperatures were incredibly warm and humidity levels were extremely low. This only aided in the fire potential for the region.

Nearly 2 million acres burned

With temperatures across the West continuing to range from the mid-90s to more than 100 degrees, the fire danger will continue to be critical.

More than 12 million people in the West are currently under heat alerts. Temperatures in the Northwest will run 15 to 20 degrees above normal this week as red flag warnings and dangerous fire conditions continue.

This fire season has already been staggering.

The bootleg fire in Oregon is now the nation's largest fire and has burned more than 400,000 acres, according to the federal tracking site InciWeb.

Ninety-one large fires burning in the West have scorched more than 1.8 million acres.

Fire conditions are now as bad now as "mid-August burning conditions in a bad year," the fire center said based on field reports. Wildfire activity typically has peaked in August.

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