Conditions on Saturday were so bad that the fire brigade had to move to safety zones
SPRAGUE RIVER, Oregon (KTVZ) — Firefighters, emergency managers and other public safety officials faced the fifth day in a row of extreme, intense fire behavior on the Bootleg Fire on Saturday as hot, dry and windy weather continues in the Fremont area. Winema National Forest – it got so bad that firefighters had to move to safety zones and residents who refused to leave were subpoenaed and could be arrested.
These conditions escalated Saturday afternoon, officials said in an 8:00 p.m. update, “resulting in an immediate, life-threatening risk to the safety of local residents, visitors, firefighters and other first responders.”
Due to public safety concerns and the imminent threat to life, the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office took the rare step of citing or arresting those who remained in or attempted to re-enter the Level 3 evacuation areas in the Bootleg Fire Area. As the fire progresses, there is a high probability of additional evacuation notices in the area.
Conditions were so extreme on Saturday that firefighters had to disconnect and move to predetermined safety zones. Fire managers evaluated the conditions and looked for opportunities to safely redeploy firefighters.
Wildlife Protection and Structure Incident Commanders Al Lawson and Lance Lightly stated: “Our number one priority is to provide firefighters and public safety. Removing our firefighters from these conditions is always our guideline under such extreme conditions.”
“Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Thirtymile Fire, which tragically killed four firefighters,” Lawson said. “The fire behavior we see on the Bootleg Fire is one of the most extreme you can find, and firefighters are seeing conditions they’ve never seen before. We understand the frustration of the community as the fire continues to grow. We also need to ensure that our firefighters can do their jobs safely so that they can return home to their families at the end of this assignment.”
Call the fire information lines below for current fire information.
Local residents and visitors are also being asked to remain extremely careful about anything that could trigger a wildfire, especially as fuels are increasingly drying out. A small spark can quickly grow to several hundred hectares under current conditions.
On Saturday afternoon, a Klamath County official said some residents in the eastern county have not heeded warnings to evacuate and are still in a restricted area.
“This violates closure restrictions and disrupts firefighting and life-saving efforts,” said County Emergency Manager Brandon Fowler.
As a result, he said, the sheriff’s office has “started issuing citations and will make arrests if necessary to keep people out of Level 3 evacuation areas.”
“We recommend that if you are in a Level 3 evacuation area, evacuate IMMEDIATELY,” Fowler said in a press release. “The chances are VERY high that we won’t be able to reach you with additional warnings.
“Unnecessary traffic in the area east of Sprague River Road is hampering firefighting and safety,” he added. “If you don’t belong in the area, stay away!”
Here’s the report from Saturday morning:
The Bootleg Fire continues to burn in the Fremont-Winema National Forest and on private property. Hot and dry weather conditions continue into the night and are forecast through today. Additional resources have been ordered and continue to come in.
Yesterday/Last night: Low relative humidity and very dry fuels (shrub, grass, trees) caused fire growth to the north and east, with the fire moving closer to Sycan Estates and the power line area. Firefighters kept fire movements to the south and west (approximately along Forest Road 4437). Suppression efforts targeted areas closest to residents and communities south and east of the fire.
Today: In the southern and southwestern portions of the fire (closest to the High Tableland and Sprague River Valley communities), firefighters will secure and improve containment lines, continue structural triage, create defensible space around structures, and provide structure protection.
The fire is expected to continue east (high voltage corridor area) and north (46 Forest Road), so firefighters are continuing with structural triage and protection in Sycan Estates and surrounding properties. They also identify places (usually a road or open area) to safely and effectively build firefighting lines.
All around the perimeter, firefighters are also working to identify places where a secondary (emergency) containment line can be safely built in case the fire moves past the primary containment lines.
Aircraft (helicopters and fixed-wing water with retarding drops) will be used to assist ground crews, but flights will be grounded if any form of drone activity is detected in the area.
Burn Size: 76,897 acres
Location: North of the towns of Sprague River and Beatty
Cause: under investigation
Resources: 3 Hotshot Crews, 5 Type II Initial Attack Crews, 3 Type II Crews, 10 Helicopters, 5 Bulldozers, 51 Motorcycles, 15 Water Tenders
Fire Information: 541-363-7765 971-727-7255 541-236-4054
EVACUATIONS: As recommended by the Bootleg Fire Incident Commander, current evacuation levels issued by Klamath County Emergency Management follow.
NEW or UPDATED
Level 3 (GO NOW) Evacuation Notice
Klamath County, north of the city of Beatty. Sycan Estates Area is under extended level 3 (GO NOW) evacuation notice and must leave immediately. This is because of the THREATENING DANGER from wildfires.
Level 3 (GO NOW) EVACUATION
Klamath County, north of the city of Beatty. Level 3 (GO NU) Evacuation begins at the forest line at Ivory Pines Rd 6.5 miles north of 140 and extends east of Ivory Pine Rd 4 miles. This is because of the THREATENING DANGER from wildfires.
EXISTING- NO CHANGE
Level 3 (GO NOW) Evacuation
Klamath County, near the town of Sprague River. Upper plateau north of Oregon Pines Rd is under Level 3 evacuation notice and must leave immediately.
Level 3 (GO NOW) EVACUATION
Klamath County, north of the city of Beatty. The north end of Godowa Springs Rd north of the quarry is under Level 3 (GO NU) Evacuation Notice.
Level 2 (GET SET) Evacuation Notice
Klamath County, north of the city of Beatty. The area north of Highway 140, on both sides of Godowa Springs Road, is below Level 2 (GET SET) and should be prepared to leave.
Level 2 (GET SET) Evacuation Notice
Klamath County, near the town of Sprague River. Klamath Forest Estates/Moccasin Hills Area is under Level 2 (GET SET) evacuation notice and must be prepared to leave
Evacuation Center: Klamath County Fairgrounds (in Klamath Falls), South 6th Street entrance only.
PUBLIC AND FIRE FIGHTERS SAFETY: Watch out for increased traffic of fire equipment on local roads and highways, especially in the Chiloquin area – use caution and drive defensively. Do not fly drones near the fire; drone activity will ground all firefighting equipment in the air.
SMOKE: Smoke is expected to continue to affect the environment. If you are sensitive to smoke, check air quality at www.oregonsmoke.blogspot.com.
The Fremont-Winema National Forest in the area of the fire is closed to the public. See the map and the Emergency Fire Closure Order 06-02-21-03 on InciWeb (Google “InciWeb Bootleg Fire”) or on the forest’s website at www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/Fremont-winema/alerts- notice.
Conditions are unusually hot and dry this year. Immediately report suspected wildfires to 911.
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On Sunday, July 11, fire and county officials will be at the following locations to provide information and answer questions. As the team makes multiple stops, times quoted are approximate.
Sprague River Community Center, 1 – 1.30 p.m.
Beatty Community Center, 1:45 PM – 2:15 PM
Bly, 2.30 pm – 3 pm
Paisley (location not yet known), 4.30 pm – 5 pm
Summer Lake (location not yet known), 5.30 – 6.00 p.m.
Fire information boards, which are updated daily, are located at:
Chiloquin public parking lot
Beatty Community Center
Sprague River Community Center
Bly Ranger District Office
Bly: Bread wagon
Klamath Falls: Klamath County Fairgrounds Red Cross Evacuation Center
Klamath Falls: Crater Lake Junction Travel Center (KLA-MO-YA Casino)
Get additional information online:
• Email: [email protected]
• Web: www.inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7609/
• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SCOFMFIREINFO
• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NorthwestTeam10/
• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/R6FWNF
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