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Fire Alert

Officials say nearly 400,000-acre Bootleg Fire was sparked by lightning, now 1/3 contained

A bear cub was spotted and photographed in the area burned by the massive Bootleg Fire
InciWeb
A bear cub was spotted and photographed in the area burned by the massive Bootleg Fire

Bear cub was spotted in area, apparently not seriously injured, but ran off

BEATTY, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Officials on the massive Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon, approaching 400,000 acres in size, confirmed Wednesday that the fire was determined to be lightning-caused, as more than 2,200 firefighters brought it to nearly one-third containment.

They also released a photo of a bear cub on a tree in the smoky fire area and provided some details online and to NewsChannel 21.

Three days ago, safety officer Bryan Daniels was working on the southeastern flank of the fire, scouting for hazards and safety zones. Daniels stopped when he saw a bear cub in the 28 road.

When he stopped his vehicle, the bear ran several feet up the trunk of a nearby tree. As more fire personnel moved into the area, the cub scurried down the tree trunk, but stayed close to the road while they were there. The firefighters left water for the cub, but it was not interested.

"It didn't appear to be injured, except for some singed fur," fire Public Information Officer Sarah Gracey said. "They were not able to make an assessment beyond that."

As the firefighters had to get on with their work of the day, U.S. Forest Service and local police personnel arrived to attempt to track the bear, but were unsuccessful. "We did not see the mother or anything," Gracey said.

She noted that not all wildlife perish when a wildfire moves through an area. While fire can reduce important habitat and food sources, it can also create new habitat and opportunities for some species.

The bear cub serves as a reminder that there are wildlife on roads in the fire area. As the public drives on area roads that are open, they're asked to use caution. A lot of slow, heavy firefighting equipment are on the roads, and smoky conditions persist. Also, you may encounter displaced wildlife, such as this young cub.

Gracey also noted that the bear cub is a reminder that Smokey Bear 's birthday is coming up on August 9 -- a famous decades-old public fire awareness campaign born from a cub found in a fire-stricken area.

"The best way to celebrate is to remember that one less spark from a human can cause one less wildfire that impacts wildlife like this cub," she said.

Here's the full Wednesday update on the fire:

Bootleg Fire Daily Update July 21

Location:  28 miles northeast of Klamath Falls, OR

Size: 394,407 acres 

Personnel: 2,268 

Containment: 32% 

(Klamath Falls, OR) – The weather moderated yesterday with reduced wind speeds, lower temperatures, and slightly higher humidity, which allowed firefighters to continue constructing and improving firelines. Weather conditions are favorable again today for the efforts to secure existing fireline. 

On the northern edge of the fire, line was constructed to Long Creek and firefighters scouted a line to tie into the anchor point near the Sycan Marsh Nature Conservancy. The reduced fire activity yesterday allowed firefighters to construct dozer line directly against the fire edge along the north and east boundary of the Log Fire. There is expected northeast movement of the fire toward Winter Ridge and Summer Lake.  Crews and equipment are going direct while also working to improve contingency lines between the fire and those communities and provide structure protection for those homes.  

Firefighters are continuing to work around the southeastern corner of the fire where the majority of recent growth has occurred. As the fire pushes up into the old Watson Fire burn area, fuels become less continuous and fire behavior is decreased. Crews are challenged by working around many snags in this area but are making good progress. Any fire that spots over or pushes the fire line has the potential for additional rapid growth. 

Firefighters continue to patrol the fireline along the southern to northwestern flanks of the fire. As crews patrol, they look for places to mitigate risks to the controlled line of the fire. Returning residents to these areas may see unburned fuels within the fire perimeter that will continue to burn and produce smoke for weeks.  

The Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office’s (OSFM) Green Team is demobilizing today after working at the fire for two weeks. Yesterday, they worked to support the transition of the incoming Red Team which will continue the OSFM’s mission of protecting lives and homes. The OSFM’s team is working in Unified Command with the two other incident management teams on the Bootleg Fire. 

“While our Incident Management Team may be transitioning, our dedication to protecting the community remains. Our firefighters are up to the task, their work the last two weeks has undoubtedly protected hundreds of homes and we remain vigilant to the task at hand.” Ian Yocum, Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Red Team Incident Commander. 

Community Meeting – Members of the team will meet with the community tonight, July 21, 2021, at 7:00 p.m. at the Alger Community Theatre (24 South F Street, Lakeview, OR 97630). 

Evacuations: Evacuations are rapidly changing due to the nature of this wildfire.   Interactive map of evacuation levels in Lake and Klamath counties at  tinyurl.com/bootlegevac 

Red Cross Evacuation Shelters:  Open 24/7 New Site:  Thrive Church - 235 South Laguna St. Klamath Falls, Oregon and Daly Middle School 906 S 3rd St. Lakeview, Oregon for information or assistance: 1-800-Red-Cross, FB @RedCrossCascades, (www.redcrossblog.org/disaster)  

Closures:  The Fremont-Winema National Forest is closed to the public in the fire area. Map and full order available at inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7609/.    

Smoke: Smoke impacts will be high in areas north, northeast, and east of the fire, especially in the vicinity of Silver Lake, Summer Lake, and Paisley. See: fires.airfire.org/outlooks/southcentraloregon.    

Fire Information Public Phone: 541-482-1331  Fire Information Media Phone: 971-727-7255  

InciWeb: inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7609/   Facebook: www.facebook.com/BootlegFireInfo   

Twitter: twitter.com/BootlegFireInfo   Hashtags: #BootlegFire #FireYear2021  

Fire / News / Oregon-Northwest / Top Stories / Wildlife

Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.

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