Bootleg Fire, others in West grow, but better weather helps crews

Spot fires smolder near trees damaged by the Bootleg Fire on Wednesday, July 21, 2021 in Bly, Ore. (AP Photo/Nathan Howard)
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BLY, Ore. (AP) — Lower winds and better weather helped crews using bulldozers and helicopters battling the nation’s largest wildfire in southern Oregon while a Northern California wildfire crossed into Nevada, prompting new evacuations as blazes burn across the West.

Oregon’s Bootleg Fire grew to 399,000 acres or 624 square miles, which is over half the size of Rhode Island.

However, authorities said higher humidity overnight and better conditions allowed crews to improve fire lines.

The fire also was approaching an area burned by a previous fire on its active southeastern flank, raising hopes that lack of fuel could reduce its spread and the forecast was for favorable firefighting weather again on Thursday.

The full Bootleg Fire update is below.

(Klamath Falls, OR) – Higher humidity and reduced wind speeds yesterday and overnight allowed firefighters to construct and improve firelines. Today’s forecast will be favorable to continue those efforts in securing the existing fireline. A steady warming and drying trend will begin today and continue into the weekend which can affect fire activity in the upcoming days.

“Fire crews and support personnel have made significant progress in containing this fire in the last few days.”said Joe Prummer, Incident Commander trainee of Pacific Northwest Incident Management Team 2. “However, we still have a long road ahead of us to ensure the safety of the surrounding communities.”

The Oregon State Fire Marshall have transitioned to working with Zone 2 on the north and northeast sections of the fire.

Inciweb

The fireline to Long Creek was improved with dozers and helicopter drops. Firefighters scouted the area from Long Creek to Coyote Creek to develop a plan to connect the fireline to the already completed line near The Nature Conservancy compound.

Fire activity picked up in the Sycan Marsh but was quickly contained by dozers. Crews and equipment are going direct along the eastern fireline while also working to improve contingency lines between the fire and the communities near Summer Lake as well as provide structure protection for those homes.

There was some slight growth to the northeast, however dozer crews were able to stop that progression and crews will work to hold that today.

In many areas of the fire, firefighters are working on patrolling and mopping areas along the line.

This step is necessary to ensure that all heat that could threaten the security of the fire line has been extinguished.

Resources continue to be shifted around the fire perimeter to meet resource needs across the fire area. As the need for night operations on the southern zone decreases, those resources will be moved to day shift or sent home for rest as they time out.

An additional responsibility of the firefighters on the Bootleg Fire is to provide initial attack response in the area adjacent to the fire. Any new starts have the potential to rapidly grow, given the extremely dry fuel conditions. Fire managers have identified resources that would respond immediately in the event that a new fire should start.

Evacuations: Klamath and Lake Counties have altered the evacuation zones, please make sure to check the new areas on the interactive map. 

Interactive map of evacuation levels in Lake and Klamath Counties at  tinyurl.com/bootlegevac 

Red Cross Evacuation Shelters:  Open 24/7Thrive Church – 235 South Laguna St. Klamath Falls, Oregon for information or assistance: 1-800-Red-Cross, FB @RedCrossCascades(www.redcrossblog.org/disaster)

Closures: The Fremont-Winema National Forest is closed to the public in the fire area. Map and full order available at inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7609/.

Smoke: Afternoon smoke impacts will continue to be high in areas north, northeast, and east of the fire, especially in the vicinity of Silver Lake, Summer Lake, and Paisley.

Continuing SW winds will push smoke from the Bootleg Fire away from Lakeview, Klamath Falls and Sprague River Valley, but may bring some smoke from the Dixie Fire into the area. See: fires.airfire.org/outlooks/southcentraloregon.

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