Klamath Basin News, Tuesday, 7/20 – Bootleg fire at 388,360 Acres, 30% Containment. A Red Flag Warning for Today

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Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Air Quality Alert
Red Flag Warning in effect from July 20, 02:00 PM PDT until July 20, 08:00 PM
Fire Weather Watch in effect from July 21, 02:00 PM PDT until July 21, 08:00 PM

Today Widespread haze before 2pm. Sunny, with a high near 89. Light west southwest wind becoming west 9 to 14 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 22 mph. Overnight low around 52.

Wednesday Sunny, with a high near 87. Light and variable wind becoming west 6 to 11 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 18 mph.
Thursday Sunny, with a high near 93.
Friday Sunny, with a high near 95.
Saturday Sunny and hot, with a high near 96.
Sunday Sunny, with a high near 95.

For ten days in a row, extreme fire behavior in the afternoon and evening has resulted in firefighters moving to safety zones.

Yesterday evening, parts of the fire received a trace amount of rain from thunderstorms in the area. The main Bootleg Fire merged with the Log Fire as anticipated. Fire activity in this area was moderated by smoke cover decreasing fire intensity, so firefighters took advantage of conditions to improve the northeastern firelines.

Toward the east, significant fire movement resulted in the fire spotting over Forest Road 28 (Trunk Road) toward Summer Lake. On the north edge, firefighters made progress constructing dozer line during the night and early morning while temperatures were cooler and winds calmer. By the afternoon, with increasing winds and temperature, the fire moved across Coyote Creek and refocused on protecting the Sycan Marsh Nature Conservancy structures.

Night operations were able to construct dozer line to Long Creek and establish an anchor point near Nature Conservancy structures. Firefighters continue to patrol 40+ miles of fireline on the southern and western flanks of the fire. There continues to be areas of heat in several locations on the west and south of the fire including the Preacher Flats area. As crews patrol, they look for places to mitigate risks to the controlled line of the fire.

Property owners are reminded to use caution when returning; hazardous hot spots and fire-weakened trees remain throughout the area. Please use an abundance of caution around these areas. Additionally, unburned fuels within the fire perimeter will continue to burn and produce smoke for weeks.

“Fighting this fire is a marathon, not a sprint,” said Rob Allen, Incident Commander for PNW Incident Management Team 2.

“We’re in this for as long as it takes to safely confine this monster”.

Today, winds will be from the southwest with a Red Flag Warning from 2 to 8 p.m. for gusty winds and low relative humidity, resulting in continued movement of the fire toward the east.

Today, firefighters will work to mitigate risks for by aggressively felling hazard trees. Crews will continue to work on areas where the fire has slopped or spotted over Forest Roads 28 and 34. If they are not successful in the next 24 hours, they will fall back to structure protection in the Summer Lake community, with possible Hwy 31 closure and a burn out operation to remove fuels between the residential areas and the main fire.

In the north toward Silver Lake, firefighters plan to close the gap of fireline between Long Creek and the anchor point at Nature Conservancy structures. Firefighters are preparing secondary fireline and scouting for contingency firelines in all areas of fire growth. Structural protection firefighting crews continue to progress and work to mitigate risks to structures.

As crews move around the evolving fire, resources are shifted to more active areas of the fire. Community Meeting: July 20, 2021 at 6:30pm Facebook Live @BootlegFireInfo. The meeting will be live streamed and a recording posted to https://www.facebook.com/bootlegfireinfo

Evacuations: Evacuations are rapidly changing due to the nature of this wildfire.   Interactive map of evacuation levels in Lake and Klamath Counties at  tinyurl.com/bootlegevac

Red Cross Evacuation Shelters: Open 24/7 New Site: Thrive Church – 235 South Laguna St. Klamath Falls, Oregon and Daly Middle School 906 S 3rd St. Lakeview, 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/.  

Shasta Elementary School is sponsoring a food drive to help families impacted by the Bootleg Fire. The school at 1951 Madison St. will collect nonperishable food items in a drive-through, drop-off event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday, July 22. All donations will go to the Klamath-Lake Counties Food Bank to help those impacted by the fire.

Firefighters and law enforcement officers started a search mission on Sunday after learning that a firefighter had gone missing while working near the Bootleg Fire. According to the incident management team, a fire crew was working to contain spot fires in the Happy Camp area of the Fremont National Forest when one of the firefighters got separated from the rest of the crew. A report about the missing man went out at 6:30 p.m. Another fire crew joined the search, in addition to personnel from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. Fire officials said that a Rapid Extraction Module, “a highly skilled and specially equipped team used to provide emergency medical services and extraction to firefighters on the line,” also deployed to help in getting the firefighter out. Officials said that the firefighter was in good spirits when they reached him, and he was able to hike to the road where an ambulance was waiting. Medical staff took him to Lakeview hospital for evaluation.

Sunday, the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call near the 31000 block of Godowa Springs Rd in eastern Klamath County on reports that a property owner was shooting near fire crews working on the Bootleg Fire. KCSO deputies along with Forest Service Law Enforcement officers and troopers from Oregon State Police made contact with the property owner involved.  The owner was charged with Unlawful Use of Weapon and Menacing with a Firearm. Residents who have returned to previously evacuated areas should understand that fire crews and damage assessment teams will be in the area for many weeks and should exercise extreme caution with firearms. KCSO will continue regular patrols in the fire area to deter potential looting.  The areas around and within the fire perimeter that have been reopened to residents are not open to general public. Property owners that have returned are urged to minimize their travel and stay away from areas where fire crews are still working active fire.

The Bootleg Fire has made history, becoming just the fourth wildfire in the modern history of Oregon to surpass 300,000 acres burned. That’s according to data records collected by the Oregonian back in 2017. The Bootleg Fire is also the largest wildfire in Klamath County’s history. Around 9:45 Sunday night, officials announced that the Bootleg Fire has burned 303,791 acres and is 25% contained. That’s about a 5,000 acres increase from Sunday morning and is a 3% increase in containment. The only other wildfires now larger than the Bootleg Fire, in the modern era, are the Buzzard Complex (395,747 acres), the Biscuit Fire (500,000 acres) and the Long Draw Fire (558,198 acres). Fire officials have told Wynne Broadcasting’s TV partner, NewsWatch 12,  that the Bootleg Fire was extremely active on Sunday and that there was a significant increase in fire activity compared to previous days. Officials also say that the fire picked up steam once again on the northern and southeastern flanks.

Around the state of Oregon

Over the hill in the Rogue Valley, the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest has requested a number of firefighting resources from outside the geographic area in preparation for a potential surge in fire activity.  Predicted weather patterns may draw some monsoonal moisture into the southeastern tier of the state, creating a threat of thunderstorms and bringing an increased risk of lightning starts. Current fires burning in the advisory area have exhibited extreme fire behavior due to critical fuel conditions. Spread rates are difficult to control, and fire behavior threatens firefighters and public safety. The Medford Airtanker Base has continued to support multiple incidents with over 725,000 gallons of retardant dropped in support of 20 wildfires as of July 19, 2021.

A sharp increase in Coronavirus cases in Oregon reported yesterday. There are nine new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the states death toll to 2,826. Oregon Health Authority reported 777 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of yesterday, bringing the state total to 212,755. The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 148, which is six more than yesterday. There are 39 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is five fewer than yesterday. One new case was reported here in Klamath County, but 56 new Covid cases were reported in Jackson County yesterday.

This week, Oregon children will begin receiving the first of three monthly payments of up to $408 per child to help their families afford to feed them. The payments, which have barely been publicized, are intended to make up for the free or reduced-cost meals that more than 400,000 preschoolers and public school students missed out on during the past year, while their schools and child care centers were closed. That means most Oregonians age 18 and under will get the money, which can be spent on any of the wide array of foods and beverages that people are allowed to purchase with food stamps. For children enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the extra money will be loaded onto their parents’ Oregon Trail cards between Thursday and July 29, then again in late August and late September.

Fourmile Campground will close for the rest of the 2021 season, due to hazard trees in the area. There is a large number of dead and dying lodgepole pine in the area due to a mountain pine beetle infestation. According to Fremont-Winema National Forest officials, the dead trees are creating a danger to the public, especially in the Fourmile Campground area. The campground is located near the base of Mt. McLoughlin, where high winds blow down or break apart dead trees. These trees can suddenly fall, blocking roads and endangering anyone camped or parked below the trees. A contract has been awarded to remove the hazard trees in the area. Logging started last week.

Fires and hot weather are forcing changes for “In A Landscape: Classical Music in the Wild,” performances in Lake and Klamath counties later this month. Lori Noack, who is coordinating planning for the outdoor performances, which feature her son, Hunter Noack, playing play classical music on a nine-foot Steinway concert grand piano atop a flatbed trailer, said the Summer Lake performance at Playa scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday, July 24, has been canceled because of the Bootleg Fire. The still uncontrolled blaze is threatening the community Summer Lake and neighboring areas. The Klamath Falls program for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 27, which sold out shortly after it was announced, is being moved from the Conger Heights Open Space to Moore Park.

A 5.1 earthquake struck off the Northern California coast late Saturday. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake just before midnight was about 12 kilometers west of Petrolia in Humboldt County and 56 kilometers southwest of Eureka. The depth was just over 30 kilometers. According to reports submitted to USGS, the shaking could be felt as far south as San Francisco and as far east as beyond Yuba City. There were no immediate reports of damage.

Salmon lovers, it’s time to celebrate. Oregon is releasing a new salmon license plate design that looks notably more like a couple salmon living their best lives than the old salmon design, which made the salmon look like, well, dinner. The new plates will be available starting Sept. 1, and people who really like that old design have until Aug. 31 to snag one, according to a press release from Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board. The two groups released the first salmon license plate in 1998, to help fund the protection and restoration of native salmon habitat. According to the release, the plates have raised more than $8 million so far. Anyone who wants more information about the new plate, and information on a special eBay auction of the plates that will benefit nonprofit organizations that support salmon recovery in Oregon can visit orsalmonplates.com.

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