43 homes destroyed in Golden Fire, fire officials say

KLAMATH COUNTY, Ore. (KGW) — The Golden Fire burning in Klamath County has destroyed 43 homes and another 43 “outbuildings,” according to the Oregon State Fire Marshal (OSFM). However, that number could change as conditions improve and task forces finish making damage assessments, OSFM said.

Most of the structures are believed to have been destroyed on July 22, the day the fire started, the OSFM reported.

“Our hearts go out to the Bonanza community and those affected by the Golden Fire,” said Matt Howard, Oregon Department of Forestry Team 2 Incident Commander, in a news release. “We grieve with the community and your loss. Our goal on this fire has been, and will continue to be, to contain this fire to minimize its impact. Our job now is to fully suppress this fire so the recovery process can begin. That is our commitment to you.”

The fire is located about 11 miles north the town of Bonanza. As of Tuesday morning, it has burned about 2,052 acres and is 9% contained. The cause of the fire is currently undetermined.

Crews are extinguishing hot spots and extending mop-up areas around structures on Tuesday.

Hot weather and wind gusts of up to 20 mph contributed to the fire’s rapid spread. Until now, crews with the OSFM were unable to access the structures due to unsafe conditions.

There are 317 homes under evacuation warnings. Level 3 “Go Now” evacuation orders are in place for the area east of Highway 140E, south of Polar Bear Lane and north of Keno Springs Road.

A portion of the Level 3 “Go Now” area was reduced to Level 2 “Be Ready” Tuesday morning. The downgraded area follows west of Bechdoldt Flat Road, south of Racoon Lane and Jaguar Lane.  Level 2 evacuation warnings are in place on both sides of Highway 140 and Bly Mountain Cutoff Road, south of Ground Hog Lane to Keno Springs.

Level 1 “Be Ready” notices are in place for all residences west of 140 from Kodiak Lane to Goldfinch Drive.

The American Red Cross and the Klamath County Community Emergency Response Team have set up an evacuation shelter at Bonanza School located at 31601 Mission Street.

Fire personnel will give an update on the fire and the evacuations during a community meeting Tuesday evening. It will be held at Bonanza School at 7 p.m.

Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek invoked the Emergency Conflagration Act for the Golden Fire over the weekend. That allows the OSFM to free up local fire resources to help fight the fire.

“They really focus on structural protection. ODF, we’re working on protecting the forest lands and there is areas in the middle where we cooperate and work together,” said Al Devos, the lead information officer for the Golden Fire.

For the latest information on evacuations, call the Klamath County hotline at 541-205-9730 or sign up for county alerts online.

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