Klamath Basin News, Friday, 7/23 – Bootleg Fire Grows to 400,389 Acres and 40% Contained As The Weekend Arrives

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Friday, July 23, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Widespread haze after 3pm. Patchy smoke before 3pm. Sunny, with a high near 94. Northwest wind 3 to 6 mph. Overnight low around 58.

Saturday Patchy smoke. Sunny and hot, with a high near 100.
Sunday Patchy smoke before noon. Sunny and hot, with a high near 100.
Monday A 20% chance of showers after noon. Mostly sunny and hot, with a high near 98.
Tuesday A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon. Partly sunny, with a high near 92.
Wednesday Mostly sunny, with a high near 93.

Today’s Headlines

The Bootleg fire is at 400,389 acres with 40% containment. The fire remains most active on the northern and eastern portions with firefighting activity focused in the Winter Rim area and on private timber lands on the northwest portion of the fire

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

Yesterday, the fireline into Long Creek was improved with hose lay and overnight firefighters were able to begin constructing direct line between Long Creek and Coyote Creek. Crews continue to work on the contingency lines in the northern portion of the fire above Sycan Marsh. Fire activity picked up in the eastern portion of the fire and spotted over Forest Service Road 2901.

Last night crews and equipment worked using natural barriers and changes in fuel to contain the spot and protect the Summer Lake community. Crews will work today to hold those areas and scout for additional spots.

Due to the fire’s movement to the east, additional Level 3 evacuations were issued for a portion of Lake County, from the Paisley Airport to mile post 82, and from Picture Rock Pass to mile post 77, including the Ana Subdivision. This area is in addition to the previous Level 3 notification. 

“Our firefighters have put in an incredible amount of hard work on this fire,” said Joe Hessel, Incident Commander for the Oregon Department of Forestry Incident Management Team. “The fire continues to throw challenges at us, and we are going to continue to stay vigilant, work hard, and adapt.” 

On the southeastern portion of the fire, crews worked through the night. There were some half-acre slops across the fire line, jackpots of fuel, and unburned islands that actively burned through the night. Today, firefighters will continue to secure the fireline, hold, and improve the control features. 

Firefighters are actively patrolling and mopping areas along the southern portion of the fire. 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 to meet the needs across the fire area. Firefighters from this fire may be called to provide initial attack response to new fire starts that have the potential to rapidly grow, given the extremely dry fuel conditions.  

Winds are expected to shift over the fire area today from a westerly flow to winds from the north or northwest. While these winds will be light, any shift in weather is a heads up situation for firefighters.  

The Incident Command Post at Chiliquin High School is being dismantled today. Crews and resources have been repositioned to bases near Summer Lake and Paisely. This move will put crews and equipment closer to the active areas of the fire. The Incident Command Post will move to Klamath Falls and will be working out of the Klamath Community College. 

Evacuations:  Evacuations are dynamic. An interactive map of evacuation levels in Lake and Klamath Counties is available at  tinyurl.com/bootlegevac 

Red Cross Evacuation Shelters:  Thrive Church – 235 South Laguna St. Klamath Falls, Oregon will be closing at 1800 Friday. For information or assistance: 1-800-Red-Cross, (www.redcrossblog.org/disaster)   

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

Around the state of Oregon

Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths all rose last week over the week prior, according to the latest from the Oregon Health Authority, as increasingly contagious variants of the virus spread unhindered across the US.

The OHA’s weekly report identified 2,026 new cases of COVID-19 during the week of Monday, July 12 through Sunday, July 18. This represented a 54 percent increase over the week prior and the highest weekly tally in seven weeks. Test positivity rates rose to 4.2 percent from 3.4 percent the week before.

New hospitalizations for COVID-19 rose to 123, up from 104 the previous week. There were 29 deaths attributed to the virus, up from 15 the previous week. Just over 2.45 million Oregonians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of July 20, comprising 57.5 percent of the state’s total population (not eligible population).

Oregon State Rep. Gary Leif died unexpectedly on Thursday, House Republican Leader Christine Drazan said in a statement.

Leif, was seven months into his third term as a GOP state representative for House District 2, which includes parts of Douglas, Jackson and Josephine counties. Previously, the lawmaker had been a Douglas County Commissioner. He was 64. A cause of death wasn’t immediately available. Colleagues of Leif described the lawmaker as patient, humble, hardworking and a mentor.

According to the Douglas County Board of Commissioners, Leif was elected to be a commissioner in 2016, but vacated his position early to accept an appointment as representative for House District 2 — taking the place of Dallas Heard who was appointed to a state senate position.

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose last week from the lowest point of the pandemic, even as the job market appears to be rebounding on the strength of a reopened economy.

The Labor Department said Thursday that jobless claims increased last week to 419,000, the most in two months, from 368,000 the previous week. The weekly number of first-time applications, which generally tracks layoffs, has fallen steadily since topping 900,000 in early January.

In Oregon, jobless claims are down sharply over the past two weeks and are now near pre-pandemic levels. Oregon fielded just 4,565 new jobless claims last week, according to the preliminary federal data, 35% fewer than it recorded just two weeks ago.

And it had just 886 new claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a temporary program Congress created last year for self-employed workers and contractors who aren’t usually eligible for jobless benefits.

The payments, which 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 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.

Pandora pine moth is an insect native to the western U.S., and found where there are loose, volcanic soils and Jeffery, lodgepole, or ponderosa pines.

Recent sightings of large numbers of this insect have led to a flurry of inquiries at the Klamath Extension office about this periodic pest. Where they are found, Pandora pine moths typically congregate in large numbers.

A client in LaPine reported hundreds of moths on a single pine trunk in mid-July. Pandora pine moth has a long history in Klamath. The earliest outbreak recorded by US entomologists was located in 1893 on the (then titled) Klamath Indian Reservation. At that time, entomologists indicated that it was clear the tribes were well familiar with the insect, even using it as a local food source.

Populations of the insect follow an unusual pattern. Firstly, they produce a generation only every other year.  There has been an outbreak recorded in the area between Bend and Chiloquin over the last few years. Based on the typical pattern, this population spike is likely to return to normal next year. High numbers of moths, their large size, and the way their caterpillars feed in large groups, make this an easily recognizable insect.

Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer is proposing a space tourism tax for spaceflights on Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic or any other tourist craft.  Blumenauer, a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee, introduced the Securing Protections Against Carbon Emissions, or SPACE, tax on Tuesday.  Blumenauer says just as normal Americans pay taxes when they buy airline tickets, billionaires who fly into space to produce nothing of scientific value should do the same.  

The tax would have two tiers, one for suborbital flights and a higher tax for orbital flights.  The tax would not apply to NASA spaceflights where scientific research is conducted.

The city of Redmond is seeking to acquire more than 900 acres from the federal government to relocate and expand its wastewater treatment plant.

The current facility, built in 1978, is located less than 2 miles from the city center and abuts residential homes and farmland. The proposed relocation site sits further north and is adjacent to the city’s 610-acre irrigation complex, which has a holding pond for treated water and hay fields.

The water is used to irrigate the hay, and biosolids are used for fertilizer. The city leases land from the federal Bureau of Land Management on the proposed site where disinfected water is infiltrated into the ground. The relocation and expansion, known as the Redmond Wetlands Complex project, will use constructed lagoons and wetlands to naturally treat wastewater before discharging it into the ground water.

The driver behind the wheel of a Jeep that crashed in March at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, killing one of the passengers, has been arrested on suspicion of Manslaughter, DUI and other charges, the Coos County Sheriff’s Office said. The crash March 20 left a 2001 Jeep Cherokee off the side of Ten Mile Sand Road about a mile and a half east of Horsfall Beach.

The sheriff’s office said the driver – 31-year-old Melissa Hill – was located Tuesday and has since been arrested on charges of Manslaughter in the 1st degree, Assault 3, DUII, Reckless Driving and Reckless Endangerment x 2.

The City Council in Portland, Oregon, on Wednesday approved a $600,000 payment to the family of a 24-year-old shot and killed by police after a foot chase that outside consultants later criticized as a police policy violation.

The payment settles a federal wrongful death lawsuit filed by Terrell Johnson’s mother, Alicia Johnson, who said her son was undergoing a mental health crisis when he was killed and had previously been suffering from mental health issues,. He had sought help from medical professionals, but received none, the lawsuit said. A Multnomah County grand jury found that Officer Samson Ajir acted lawfully.

Two years after the 2017 shooting, an outside consultant highlighted the confrontation as an example of the Portland Police Review Board’s failure to hold officers accountable for policy violations that contribute to deadly encounters with residents.

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