Containment builds on Bootleg Fire; crews worry about dangerous weather

Magee Graeme - Big State Wildfire
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Sunday crews reported smoke from smoldering and torching fuels inside the burn area as they widen the fire line and soak the remaining heat and flames.

Dozers continue to straighten the ragged edge of the fire line on the east side for improved containment. 

Location: 28 miles northeast of Klamath Falls, OR
Fireline total:  323 miles
Size: 413,762 acres, 647 square miles
51 miles active fire edge, 272 miles of contained line
Personnel: 1,780
Containment: 84% 

If a spot fire were to start, or if the existing fire jumped the line, contingency lines are in place to stop its progression.

Due to the crews’ tremendous efforts over the past few days, the percent containment has increased and the miles of active fire edge have decreased significantly. 

Because of the Bootleg Fire’s size and local conditions, it still holds a lot of heat.

Even though progress has been made and fire advisors are confident in the containment measures, severe conditions remain for fire hazard. “Megafires” like this do not usually burn out until late fall or early winter when moisture increases and temperature decreases. 

For local residents, warm, dry, windy weather in this area is not a surprise,” said Tom Wright, Incident Meteorologist of the National Weather Service, MedfordIn fact, this is a common weather pattern, but it usually occurs in Septembernot the end of July and early August. 

But this year is different. Several events led to the extremely dry conditions this year. 

Klamath and Lake counties are in an “exceptional” drought and have been in drought conditions for more than two years. 

Rainfall is at barely half the normal amount for the water year, and it is unlikely that the percentage will catch up, since the remainder of the year is the dry season. The record heat event in late June that included three consecutive days over 100 degrees Fahrenheit also had a major impact on drying trees, vegetation, and soil.  

Monday’s weather will include isolated afternoon showers and thunderstorms with scant amounts of rain.

Over the next few days, temperatures will increase, the humidity will decrease, and winds will pick up, creating critical fire weather conditions.

Fuels around the fire are nearly 100% receptive to ignition if lightning strikes or an ember lands. 

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