KLAMATH COUNTY, Ore — The 2021 Bootleg fire ripped through much of Klamath and Lake counties – destroying more than 400 structures, and provided an uphill battle against firefighters.
The fire started on Fuego Mountain in the Freemont Winema National Forest on July 6th, 2021. It was sparked following a lightning storm in the area 10 days prior.
“It was a long fight,” Jennifer Case, spokeswoman with the Oregon Department of Forestry Klamath/Lake district, told NBC5 Tuesday. “It was unusual to see a fire grow that fast, but the conditions were set up for a large incident.”
The fire, described as a “mega fire” because it burned more than 100,000 acres, quickly exploded within days. It ultimately merged with the Logg fire in neighboring Lake County.
It’s currently listed as third largest fire in state history, after it burned about 413,000 acres. The Bootleg fire also consumed around 400 homes and buildings.
Officials said the fire doubled in size every 24 hours, and even forced crews to retreat daily due to the dangerous conditions.
“It was just difficult because we had already been running and gunning since April,” Case said. “We already had large fires before Bootleg so just the lack of resources in the area was just difficult.”
The emergency prompted strike teams from across Oregon, and neighboring states to assist in the weeks-long battle.
The intensity of the Bootleg fire created its own weather – in what the National Weather Service says is “unusual.” The fire formed multiple pyrocumulus clouds, which later turned into several thunderstorms and lightning strikes.
Many community gathered at the Sprague River Community Center at the time, and shared food, water, and other critical evacuation supplies.
During the midst of devastation, crews shared a photo of The Lodge at Summer, with a sign titled, “thank you fire fighters.”
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