Bootleg fire approaching 400k acres, firefighters forced to retreat for eleventh straight day

KLAMATH COUNTY, Ore — The Bootleg fire that has been burning for exactly two weeks as of Tuesday, continues to provide dangerous conditions for firefighters on the frontlines in Klamath and Lake counties.

On Tuesday, firefighters retreated to fire safety zones for the eleventh straight day because of the threat. The fire is burning about  388,359 acres and is 30% contained.

A red flag warning was placed near the fire from 2 p.m. – 8 p.m. Tuesday, due to the dry and windy conditions in the area. 

“The wind is pushing embers, creating spot fires and slop-overs,” Marcus Kauffman, PIO for Oregon Department of Forestry, told NBC5. “Those are just the kinds of conditions, where it’s just not safe to have our people in there.” 

Parts of the fire received rain overnight that helped increase containment. Cooler temperatures early Tuesday morning gave crews an advantage in strengthening fire lines.

“The western edge of the fire has containment lines that have held the last few days which is building confidence,” Bootleg fire officials said in a Facebook comment during a live community meeting. “The fire growth is predicted to the northeast, not the west.”

The Bootleg fire merged with the Log Fire Monday night as firefighters anticipated.  It completely burned throughout the Gearhart Wilderness and is threatening homes in the Summer Lake area.

“We have lines constructed around the structure, to try and keep the fire from moving in the area of Highway 31.” said Kyle Cannon, operations section chief for Pacific Northwest Team #2.

As of Tuesday, 67 residences and 117 outbuildings were lost in the fire. Firefighters’ goal throughout the week is to keep the fire from spreading even more in all directions.

We’re just marching steadily north, trying to pinch this fire off,” Kauffman said. “We want to put some containment around the edges of it, so it has no place to go.” 

Kauffman says the Bootleg fire and other fires across the region, should serve as a reminder for people to be even more fire aware.

“The resources are stretched thin across the whole country, and its important for people to not be the cause of the next fire,” Kauffman said. “We simply can’t afford that, we got a lot of fire on the landscape, we cant afford to divert resources.” 

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