Klamath Basin News, Thursday, 7/15 – Bootleg Fire is 227,234 Acres, Largest in Nation, Fire Moving Into Gearhart Wilderness and north towards Lake Henry

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Thursday, July 15, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Widespread haze before 2pm. Sunny, with a high near 90. Overnight with a low around 54. Northwest wind 9 to 14 mph becoming light after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 21 mph.

Friday Widespread haze before 11am. Sunny, with a high near 88. Light winds at times.
Saturday Sunny, with a high near 92.
Sunday Sunny and hot, with a high near 96.
Monday Mostly sunny, with a high near 95.

Today’s Headlines

BOOTLEG FIRE UPDATE…. 12PM Thursday, 227,234 acres.

Reports say that many homeowners, recreationalists and ranchers heeded warnings and fled the Bootleg Fire.

But some defied evacuations orders, deciding to stay put and take their chances against the nation’s largest wildfire. Now those individuals are stuck — unable to reenter the evacuation zone if they leave, which some say is crucial to replenish dwindling supplies like water and food for themselves and their animals.

Joy Treadway, owner of Blackwing Ranch on Ivory Pine Road, was one resident who stayed behind. Her ranch is under a level three evacuation order, which means residents must evacuate immediately and should not expect emergency assistance if they choose not to.

Brandon Fowler, Emergency Manager for the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office, confirmed via email that individuals who made the decision to remain in a level 3 evacuation area will not be allowed back into the area if they leave now.

Firefighters reported another day of extreme fire behavior including torching, running, and frequent spotting ahead of the main fire including growth into the Gearhart Wilderness and north towards Lake Henry.

The Log Fire, located 8 miles southwest of Summer Lake, continued to spread to the east driven by steady west winds and is now 4,830 acres. Large pyrocumulus clouds developed over the eastern portion of the fire during the afternoon and are possible again today. Throughout the night, crews continued working in the greater Fuego Mountain area as well as to the southeast along the 34 Road, improving existing containment lines.  

“This fire is going to continue to grow – the extremely dry vegetation and weather are not in our favor,” said Joe Hessel, Incident Commander for ODF Team 1 Incident Management Team. “We are going to continue to prepare lines, protect structures, and move resources as we can around the fire’s edge.” 

With continued west winds predicted, firefighters will continue to work to hold the fire to the 34 Road to prevent further eastern and southern spread. Heavy beetle killed timber and active fire behavior will present challenges in keeping the fire north and west of this road. Crews will continue to work on strengthening their existing line as well as scout for potential contingency lines. Structure protection groups are in place along the fire to help reduce risk to area homes. 

Community Meeting: Please join us for a virtual community meeting Friday July 16, 2021 at 6:30pm at www.facebook.com/BootlegFireInfo.  

Evacuations: Evacuations are rapidly changing due to the nature of this wildfire. Please visit tinyurl.com/bootlegevac for an interactive map of evacuation level in Lake and Klamath Counties.  

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: Heavy smoke expected July 15, 2021 with widespread impacts to communities and State Route 140 in Oregon between Chiloquin and Bly. Full report at: fires.airfire.org/outlooks/southcentraloregon.  

Fire Information Public Phone: 541-482-1331 

The Bootleg Fire, burning near Bly and Sprague River and now into Lake County, is the nation’s largest wildfire.

Persistent dry and windy conditions were to blame for another day of active fire behavior on the Bootleg Fire which as of Wednesday morning, is 212,377 acres in size and 5% contained.

Air operations were severely limited due to unsafe flying conditions in heavy smoke, and fire growth was reported primarily to the east in the greater Gearhart Wilderness area. On the ground, firefighters improved existing dozer and hand containment lines in the Fuego Mountain area.

Firefighters took advantage of favorable overnight conditions, managing to leave a solid containment line for the community of Chiloquin and Highway 97.

Crews working the southern and eastern flanks of the fire took advantage of favorable conditions to make continued progress on improving dozer and other containment lines. While the fire did not make the expansive runs as it has done in past days, wind from the west continued to push fire growth toward the greater Snake and Round Butte areas, which are currently under Red Flag Conditions.

Extensive model railroad layouts will be featured in a show that opens Sat., July 17 for a two-week run at the Klamath County Museum. 

The model train show is presented by the Klamath Rails model railroad club. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

The museum is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Entry to the train show is included with regular museum admission, which is $5 for adults, $4 for teenagers and seniors, and free for children 12 and under.

Vintage garments will be the focus of a special tour offered this month at the Baldwin Hotel Museum. Dresses, hats and accessories dating from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s will be featured. Down the street, The tour will be offered on Sat. July 17 and 24. The tour will cover all four floors of the hotel. Reservations are required for the hour-long tour. Cost is $5 per person.

Klamath Falls Courthouse Basin Life Magazine

Governor Kate Brown has appointed a new judge to the Klamath County Circuit Court to replace retired Judge Cameron Wogan. Kelly Kritzer currently serves as the probate commissioner and law clerk for both the Klamath and Lake County circuit courts.

Kritzer’s appointment to the bench is effective immediately, Brown’s office said. Wogan’s retirement became effective in April. According to Brown’s office, Kritzer grew up in Michigan and earned her bachelor’s degree in 1991 from the University of Michigan.

After spending a number of years studying and working in archaeology, Kritzer went on to law school at Willamette University, spending summers as a law student intern in Klamath County. After graduating in 2003, Kritzer served as a law clerk for the Klamath County Circuit Court for three years and then as a Klamath County Deputy District Attorney. Upon leaving the DA’s office, Kritzer went into private practice from 2008 to 2016.

In 2017, she was hired into her current role as probate commissioner and law clerk, where she provides legal research and writing support for judges in Klamath and Lake Counties; helps to develop court forms, rules, and policies; provides community legal trainings and education; handles probate matters such as trusts, wills, and estates; and serves as a mediator in landlord-tenant and small claims matters.

Around the state of Oregon

Oregon is reporting three new deaths from COVID-19 and 340 new infections.  The Oregon Health Authority reported the new numbers yesterday.

Jackson country reported 29 new cases, Klamath county reported 2.  Officials say 111 Oregonians are currently hospitalized with coronavirus, which is two more than on Monday.  So far, 28-hundred Oregonians have died from COVID-19 and there have been 211-thousand-65 cases since the pandemic began. 

The state is giving around 48-hundred vaccinations a day.


Red Flag Warnings For Most of Oregon

Critical fire weather conditions are leading to Red Flag Warnings across most of Oregon.  A combination of strong winds, low humidity and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior.

Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions comprised of strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures are either occurring now or will shortly. If you see smoke or flames, please call 911 immediately. Do not use open flames, briquettes or fireworks of any kind.

The National Weather Service has issued a Reg Flag Warning around the Bootleg Fire in the Klamath Basin and the Fremont-Winema National Forest until 8:00pm tonight. Warnings remain in effect in some other parts of the state through 11:00pm on Thursday.

The geographic area experienced a breezy day with clear skies interrupted by waves of smoke from continued large fire activity. Low humidities and above average temperatures continued to be a problem east of the Cascades. Large fires activity was moderate. Initial attack activity was light.

The effects of an upper level trough will continue to be experienced across the geographic area, which will bring gusty winds through Cascade gaps and across the east side basins into the evening. Low relative humidities will persist through Thursday afternoon east of the Cascades. Temperatures are projected to ease into normal seasonal ranges over the weekend and along with that, humidities are expected to make some slight increases. No significant precipitation is expected with the system.

A southerly flow is still of concern for early next week that comes with an upper level ridge building over the Great Basin and the Rockies. The southerly flow may draw some monsoonal moisture into the eastern tier of the region creating a threat of scattered thunderstorms early next week.

With fire danger above average in most areas, hot, dry and breezy conditions will maintain elevated potential for new
significant fire development east of the Cascades and in southwestern Oregon. Potential could moderate some toward the end of the week if cooler weather arrives as anticipated.

Airport Officials Facing Jet Fuel Shortages

Airport officials facing jet fuel shortages are concerned they’ll have to wave off planes and helicopters that drop fire retardants during what could be a ferocious wildfire season, potentially endangering surrounding communities.

Sporadic shortages at some tanker bases in Oregon and Utah have already been reported. The worry is that multiple bases go dry simultaneously during what is shaping up to be a very busy wildfire season in the U.S. West. Tanker bases in Arizona, where many large fires are burning, have also had jet fuel supply issues in the last month.

Picture for Klamath County deputies arresting people violating Level 3 evacuation orders as Bootleg Fire burns 200,000+ acres

Oregon’s U.S. Senator Ron Wyden joined Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Cory Booker on Wednesday in introducing the discussion draft for a bill, the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, that would federally declassify cannabis as a controlled substance. The lawmakers said that ending federal criminalization of cannabis is becoming increasingly urgent as more and more states legalize both medical and recreational use. Wyden, Schumer, and Booker underlined that the vast majority of Americans believe that cannabis should be legalized in one form or another, and most Americans live in states where it is at least somewhat available legally. The proposal introduced on Wednesday would not only remove cannabis from the federal list of controlled substances, it advocates expunging federal non-violent crimes involving marijuana and allowing people currently in federal prison for those crimes to petition a court for re-sentencing. It would also establish a fund to invest in “communities that were hurt by the War on Drugs” and work for restorative justice in communities of colorThe delta variant has arrived in Eastern Oregon. And with vaccination rates across the region lagging behind the state, the question for health experts is not if the latest and most contagious strain of COVID-19 will spread through communities, but how large the outbreak will be. Cases have declined across Oregon in recent weeks as the state reached its goal of 70% of residents vaccinated. Meanwhile, some less-vaccinated Eastern Oregon counties, including Baker and Umatilla counties, have reported sharp case spikes. Umatilla County — where nearly 33% of residents are vaccinated — has reported some of the highest daily case counts statewide in recent weeks. From July 6 to July 9, Umatilla County reported 67 cases. And since mid-June, the county has reported at least 260 cases, according to county health data.

Josephine Marijuana Enforcement Team Serve Search Warrant For an Illegal Marijuana Operation

Cover picture for the article

On Tuesday, July 13, 2021, members of Josephine Marijuana Enforcement Team (JMET) in partnership with Oregon State Police, Rogue Area Drug Enforcement (Grants Pass DPS, OSP, Josephine County Parole and Probation), Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Team (IMET, consisting of Jackson County SO, Medford PD), Homeland Security Investigations and Josephine County Code Enforcement; served a search warrant relating to illegal marijuana grow operations in the 1300 block of Lakeshore Dr, 6000 block of Takilma Rd and the 300 block of Merlot Dr.

During the execution of the search warrant, 27,696 illegal marijuana plants were seized and destroyed. Additionally, 27 firearms, multiple water pumps and generators were seized as evidence. $255,611 in cash was also seized.  (Side note: the cash, which is subject to forfeiture, can only be used for training and equipment, not personnel.)

Zacharea Jafarzadeh, 30, and Woodrow Benear, 32, were arrested and lodged in the Josephine County Jail for possession, manufacture, and unlawful delivery of marijuana. Additionally, 11 subjects were detained due to safety concerns. At the time of this press release, the investigation is ongoing, and no further details are being released.  Josephine Co. Sheriff’s Office 

The Britt Music & Arts Festival on Wednesday announced the second set of concerts for its 2021 summer series, with some old favorites and a few brand new artists on the docket.

The new announcement brings the total number of concerts so far this season to 17. The announcement introduces a wide range of styles, from country music’s Lee Brice to indie-pop band Portugal. The Man, and southern rockers 38 Special.

Also announced are classic artists THE BEACH BOYS, Chris Isaak, and Chicago along with Britt fan favorite, Michael Franti & Spearhead. Popular comedian Nikki Glaser will bring on the laughter and the season wraps up with the unique Americana sound of Shakey Graves.

Airport officials facing jet fuel shortages are concerned they’ll have to wave off planes and helicopters that drop fire retardants during what could be a ferocious wildfire season, potentially endangering surrounding communities.

Sporadic shortages at some tanker bases in Oregon and Utah have already been reported. The worry is that multiple bases go dry simultaneously during what is shaping up to be a very busy wildfire season in the U.S.  West. Tanker bases in Arizona, where many large fires are burning, have also had jet fuel supply issues in the last month.

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