Saturday's conditions so bad, fire crews had to move to safety zones
SPRAGUE RIVER, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Fire crews on Saturday faced the fifth day in a row of extreme, intense fire behavior on the Bootleg Fire, which again nearly doubled in size to nearly 144,000 acres as hot, dry, windy weather persisted on Fremont-Winema National Forest. It got so bad, firefighters had to move to safety zones, and residents who refused to leave were cited and could face arrest.
These conditions escalated Saturday afternoon, officials said in an 8 p.m. update, "resulting in immediate, life-threatening risk to the safety of area residents, visitors, firefighters and other emergency responders."
The fire had grown to 143,607 acres, according to Sunday morning's update on the fire's InciWeb page: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7609/.
A map of the evacuation areas and fire perimeter can be found at: https://kcgis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=4bfb02b41eb7473ca95b04c3cbd1da21
Due to public safety concerns and immediate threat to life, the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office took the rare step of citing or arresting those who remained in or were trying to re-enter the Level 3 evacuation areas in the Bootleg Fire Area. As the fire advances, there is a high probability for additional evacuation notices in the area.
Conditions Saturday were so extreme that firefighters needed to disengage and move to predetermined safety zones. Fire managers evaluated conditions and looked for opportunities to reengage firefighters safely.
Wildland and structure protection Incident Commanders Al Lawson and Lance Lightly stated, “Our first priority is to provide for firefighter and public safety. Removing our firefighters from these conditions is always our guidance under such extreme conditions.”
“Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Thirtymile Fire (in Washington state), where four firefighters tragically lost their lives,” said Lawson. “The fire behavior we are seeing on the Bootleg Fire is among the most extreme you can find, and firefighters are seeing conditions they have never seen before. We understand the frustration of the community as the fire continues to grow. We also need to ensure our firefighters are able to engage safely so that they can return home at the end of this assignment to their families.”
For current fire information call the fire information lines listed below.
Area residents and visitors are also asked to continue to use extreme caution with anything that can spark a wildfire, especially as fuels increasingly dry out. A small spark can quickly grow to several hundred acres in the current conditions.
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 the closure restrictions and inteferes with firefighting and life-saving efforts," county Emergency Manager Brandon Fowler said.
As a result, he said, the sheriff's office "has begun to issue citations and will make arrests if necessary to keep people out of the Level 3 evacuation areas."
"We advise that if you are in a Level 3 evacuation area PLEASE EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY," Fowler said in a news release. "There is a VERY high probability that we may not be able to get to you with additional warnings.
"Unnecessary traffic in the area east of Sprague River Road is hampering fire response and security," he added. "If you do not belong in the area, stay out!"
Here's Saturday morning's report:
The Bootleg Fire continues to burn on the Fremont-Winema National Forest and on private lands. Hot and dry weather conditions have continued overnight and are forecast through today. Additional resources have been ordered and continue to arrive.
Yesterday/Last Night: Low relative humidity and very dry fuels (brush, grass, trees) caused fire growth to the north and east, with fire moving closer to Sycan Estates and the area of the high-voltage powerline. Firefighters held fire movement in the south and west (approx. along Forest Road 4437). Suppression efforts were focused on areas closest to residents and communities to the south and east of the fire.
Today: In the south and southwest portions of the fire (nearest to communities of High Tableland and Sprague River Valley), 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 to move toward the east (area of the high voltage powerline corridor) and north (Forest Road 46) so firefighters are continuing structural triage, and protection in Sycan Estates and surrounding residences. They also are identifying places (usually a road or open area) to safely and effectively build fire containment lines.
Around the entire perimeter, fire crews also work to identify places where secondary (contingency) containment line could be safely built in-case fire moves past primary containment lines.
Aircraft (helicopters and fixed-wing water and retardant drops) will be used to assist on-the-ground crews, however, flights will be grounded if any type of drone activity is spotted in the area.
Fire 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 Dozers, 51 Engines, 15 Water Tenders
Fire Information: 541-363-7765 971-727-7255 541-236-4054
EVACUATIONS: As the recommendation of the Bootleg Fire Incident Commander, following are the current evacuation levels issued by Klamath County Emergency Management.
NEW or UPDATED
Level 3 (GO NOW) Evacuation Notice
Klamath County, north of the town of Beatty. Sycan Estates Area is under expanded level 3 (GO NOW) evacuation notice and needs to leave immediately. This is due to IMMINENT DANGER due to wildfire.
Level 3 (GO NOW) EVACUATION
Klamath County, north of the town of Beatty. Level 3 (GO NOW) Evacuation starting at the forest boundary at Ivory Pines Rd 6.5 miles north of 140 extending east of Ivory Pine Rd 4 miles. This is due to IMMINENT DANGER due to wildfire.
EXISTING- NO CHANGE
Level 3 (GO NOW) Evacuation
Klamath County, near the town of Sprague River. Upper tableland area north of Oregon Pines Rd is under level 3 evacuation notice and needs to leave immediately.
Level 3 (GO NOW) EVACUATION
Klamath County, north of the town of Beatty. The north end of Godowa Springs Rd north of the rock quarry is under Level 3 (GO NOW) Evacuation Notice.
Level 2 (GET SET) Evacuation Notice
Klamath County, north of the town of Beatty. The area north of Highway 140, on both sides of Godowa Springs Road is under level 2 (GET SET) evacuation notice and needs to 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 needs to be prepared to leave
Evacuation Center: Klamath County Fairgrounds (in Klamath Falls), South 6th Street entrance only.
PUBLIC AND FIREFIGHTER SAFETY: Watch for increased fire equipment traffic on area roads and highways, particularly in the Chiloquin area – use caution and drive defensively. Do not fly drones in the vicinity of the fire; drone activity will cause grounding of all airborne firefighting resources.
SMOKE: Smoke is expected to continue to impact the local area. If you are sensitive to smoke, check air quality levels at www.oregonsmoke.blogspot.com.
The Fremont-Winema National Forest is closed to the public in the area of the fire. See 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-notices.
Conditions are unseasonably hot and dry this year. Report suspected wildfires immediately to 911.
In-Person Fire Information Opportunities
On Sunday, July 11, fire and county officials will be at the following sites to provide information and answer questions. Because the team will make multiple stops, times listed are approximate.
· Sprague River Community Center, 1 – 1:30 p.m.
· Beatty Community Center, 1:45 – 2:15 p.m.
· Bly, 2:30 – 3 p.m.
· Paisley (location TBA), 4:30 – 5 p.m.
· Summer Lake (location TBA), 5:30 – 6 p.m.
Fire information boards, updated daily, are located at:
· Chiloquin Public Parking Lot
· Beatty Community Center
· Sprague River Community Center
· Bly Ranger District Office
· Bly: Breadwagon
· 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@example.com
• Web: www.inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7609/
• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SCOFMPFIREINFO
• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NorthwestTeam10/
• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/R6FWNF