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ST. LOUIS– The hazy skies over St. Louis are due in part to the hundreds of wildfires burning in Oregon. The National Weather Service says the smoke now stretches across the Midwest all the way to the East Coast.

The smoke is staying aloft in St. Louis and not causing air quality issues for now.

The fires are so hot that they create their own weather. The blaze heats up the air closest to the ground. That air rises, becomes saturated, forming large clouds that can grow into towering thunderheads or pyrocumulonimbus clouds.

Those fire clouds produce strong winds and lightning, both bad news for crews trying to contain a rampaging fire.

Firefighters from the Gray Summit area are helping to fight the flames out west. Crews there are starting to make progress against the nation’s largest wildfire in Bly, Oregon.

The Bootleg Fire, which has scorched an area half the size of Rhode Island, is 40% surrounded after burning some 70 homes. Fire officials say they’ve surrounded much of the bottom half.