Klamath Basin News, Friday, 7/16 – Bootleg Fire Moving NE, 241,497 acres, 1,921 Firefighters On The Blaze, 7% Contained

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Friday, July 16, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Patchy smoke before mostly before 3pm. Sunny, with a high near 87. Light west wind increasing to 5 to 10 mph in the afternoon. Clear overnight with a low around 54.

Sunday Sunny and hot, with a high near 96.
Monday Mostly sunny, with a high near 95.
Tuesday Sunny, with a high near 93.
WednesdaySunny, with a high near 93

Today’s Headlines

BOOTLEG FIRE UPDATE…. 9AM Friday, 241,497 acres, 7% contained.

The Bootleg fire currently 28 miles northeast of Klamath Falls has grown to 241,497 acres and is just 7% contained. There are currently 1,921 firefighters on scene battling the blaze that is now the largest in America.

For the fourth day in a row, firefighters withdrew from leading edges of the Bootleg Fire as extreme fire conditions fueled expansive fire growth. In the late afternoon, a large pyrocumulus cloud ‘collapsed’ further spreading embers to the east of the main fire and prompting additional evacuation notices for the communities of Summer Lake and Spring Lake in Lake County.

Crews worked through the night to get dozer lines around spot fires over the 34 Road to the southeastern edge of the fire.

To the north, crews continued to work against very active surface fire, spotting up to a half mile ahead of the main fire, and dry southern winds.   

“The Bootleg Fire perimeter is more than 200 miles long- that’s an enormous amount of line to build and hold.” said Rob Allen, Incident Commander for the Pacific Northwest Area Incident Management Team 2. “We are continuing to use every resource from dozers to air tankers to engage where it’s safe to do so especially with the hot, dry, windy conditions predicted to worsen into the weekend.” 

On Thursday, firefighters made excellent progress on the southern edge of the fire as winds pushed the fire back into itself. On the fire’s western edge, firefighters continue to successfully hold the existing containment lines and are patrolling for any remaining hotspots near the fireline.

In addition, several crews will continue working to protect and wrap houses towards Paisley and Summer Lake as a precaution ahead of potential fire growth toward those communities over the coming days. Additional structural firefighters will arrive today to assist the east side of the fire with structure protection.  

Community Meeting: Friday July 16, 2021 at 6:30PM at www.facebook.com/BootlegFireInfo. A recorded version will also be available on our new YouTube channel.  

Evacuations: Visit tinyurl.com/bootlegevac for an interactive map of current evacuation levels.  

Closures: Area closures in the Fremont-Winema National Forest at inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7609/.  

Smoke: Smoke impacts anticipated to Silver Lake, Paisley, and the greater Harney Basin. Full report at: fires.airfire.org/outlooks/southcentraloregon.  

Fire Information Public Phone: 541-482-1331 

For those that have had to evacuate shelters are located at the Klamath County Fairgrounds, La Pine Middle School and at the Daly Middle School Auditorium.

A national shortage of jet fuel impacted the Lake County Airport earlier this week as firefighting efforts on the Bootleg Fire ramped up along the county’s western reaches.

Airport officials across the U.S. West have sounded the alarm about the jet fuel shortage and the potential that they will have to wave off firefighting aircraft during an already active fire season. Some tanker bases have already encountered sporadic shortages, pointing to supply chains that atrophied during the pandemic. A

ccording to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, the airport ran out of Jet A fuel on Sunday, the day after the Bootleg Fire’s most alarming growth. The airport manager had placed an order for fuel nearly a week prior, but delivery was delayed. The Lake County commissioners and emergency manager were made aware of the issue early Monday morning. They immediately took action looking for Jet A fuel in order to prevent an impact to wildfire initial attack and air ambulance operations at the Lake County Airport.

On Wednesday, Ocean Air in Klamath Falls delivered 3,500 gallons of Jet A fuel to Lake County, and officials said that the usual supplier Phillips 66 would bring 8,500 gallons more by today.

There is good news today for employers in Klamath County. In March, SAIF announced a $210 million dividend for more than 50,000 employers statewide.

The checks are going out this week and SAIF policyholders in Klamath County, not including state agencies, will receive nearly $2.5 million.

Businesses and organizations will be receiving between 38 and 46% of their standard premium back. The dividend will be based on premium for policies whose term ended in 2020 and will be distributed in July. This is the 12th year in a row SAIF has been able to offer a dividend, and the 24th dividend since 1990. 

The Rocky Point Volunteer Fire Department will hold its Annual Summer Festival tomorrow on Saturday.

Events kick off at 9 a.m. with a flea market, vendor booths and bake sale.

A parade is scheduled for 10 a.m., followed by lunch, 50/50 drawing and live auction. It will feature live music, vendor sales, a beer and wine booth and more. Barbecue lunch is priced between $8-15. Proceeds support the volunteer fire department and emergency medical team. The festival takes place at the fire hall at 25600 Rocky Point Road.

Around the state of Oregon

There are seven new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,810, the Oregon Health Authority reported at 12:01 today. Oregon Health Authority reported 322 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 today bringing the state total to 211,631.  

Klamath County reported 4 new cases yesterday, Lake county reported 1 and Jackson county reported 25.

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 137, which is 15 more than yesterday. There are 38 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is four more than yesterday.

The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office has identified a man shot and killed by officers during evacuations of the Mount Shasta Vista Subdivision while the Lava Fire raged at the end of June.

On Wednesday evening, the Sheriff’s Office said that it had positively identified the man as 35-year-old Soobleej Kaub Hawj of Kansas City, Kansas.

According to the original statement released by the Sheriff’s Office during the week of the shooting, Hawj was leaving the subdivision in a GMC pickup on the evening of June 28. Hawj reportedly tried to turn south onto County Road A-12, further into the evacuation zone, when law enforcement officers from multiple agencies attempted to halt him.

During that interaction, the Sheriff’s Office said that Hawj raised a handgun and “may have fired several rounds” before several officers opened fire, killing him. Wednesday’s statement marks the first release of additional information on the case since the shooting.

Crews are working to reopen Oregon 138E affected by the Jack Fire, perhaps by this weekend.

The road has been closed since the afternoon of July 5 between Steamboat and Slide Creek. The Jack Fire is now burning away from the North Umpqua Highway. It caused minimal damage to the highway as compared to previous fires in the scenic corridor.

Several hazard trees and other debris caused by the fire are still on or near the highway, but crews are working quickly to hit the weekend reopening goal.  Crews are also evaluating burnt signs and sections of guardrail. They are making plans for their replacement. When the highway does reopen, Griffin urged drivers to be careful, watch out for crews and expect delays due to slower speeds in the burn area.

Motorists can also expect frequent delays throughout the summer between Idleyld and Steamboat and near Diamond Lake due to rehabilitation work on last year’s Archie Creek and Thielsen wildfires

After a five month long investigation into drug sales in the valley, the Medford Area Drug and Gang task force executed a search warrant yesterday on a small compound in the 14000 block of Agate Road in Eagle Point.

The target of the search warrant was Joel Dixon, 55, who is well known to the task force. Dixon was out on pre-trial release from a 2020 case involving multiple pounds of drugs. Investigators found the following: Five pounds of methamphetamine, 200 grams of cocaine, ¼ pound of heroin, Over $7,000 in cash, One firearm, Stolen motorcycle out of Los Angeles and a large scale illegal marijuana grow.

Dixon was taken into custody without incident. The marijuana grow was dismantled by the Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Team and remains under investigation. Dixon was lodged on Unlawful Possession, Manufacture and Distribution of Methamphetamine, Heroin and Cocaine. His pre-trial release has been revoked as well.

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