'Critical fire weather' forecast over weekend
BLY, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A higher containment figure for the first time in days and another day of little fire growth shows progress on the nation's largest wildfire, the 413,000-acre Bootleg Fire in Southern Oregon. But nearly 2,000 firefighters still have plenty of work to do, to shore up the lines and deal with critical fire weather conditions.
Here's Saturday morning's update from fire officials:
Bootleg Update July 31, 2021
Location: 28 miles northeast of Klamath Falls, OR Size: 413,562 acres
Personnel: 1,918 Containment: 56%
(Klamath Falls, OR) – “At this point in the fire, we have to think about two things,” says Fire Behavior Analyst Chris Moore, “the fire we know about and the fire we don’t know.”
The fire we know is the actively and recently burned portions of the Bootleg Fire. Much of the recent fire activity has been torching and burning pockets of fuel within the burn area.
While the fire is not yet contained, a fire line has been constructed around the entire perimeter. Now, crews are working to ensure that perimeter holds (is secured), to contain the fire. In some places, the fire line is 100 to 150 feet wide from the unburned into the burned area. But some places may require as much as 300 feet to confidently expect the fire to remain contained.
Along the south, west and east perimeters, crews are patrolling and extinguishing residual fire and heat (mopping up) where the fire is less active. The goal is to extend the line wide enough into the burned area to make fire escape unlikely based on the potential fire behavior, fuels, and terrain.
In the more active northwest and northeast corners of the fire, crews are working to strengthen and expand the fire line. Contingency lines, or fire breaks, further out from the perimeter, are also being constructed. The “fire we don’t know” is the potential for ember-sparked spot fires from these active areas or new fires sparked by lightning strikes that could occur.
Critical fire weather is forecast in the Bootleg Fire area over the weekend. Current drought conditions combined with low relative humidity, strong surface wind and unstable air may cause more active fire behavior. In these places where the fire line is not secured, there is a potential for wind to carry embers and spark spot fires.
The terrain in the northwest could encourage rapid spread of the fire and make it more difficult to control. Likewise, in the northeast corner, spot fires could continue to press up against Winter Rim and ultimately threaten structures along Summer Lake and Highway 31. Although Lake County evacuation designations have lifted, residents in this area should remain vigilant to changing fire behavior and should “Be Set” to evacuate if necessary.
A Red Flag Warning for lightning over dry fuels is in effect for Saturday afternoon and evening. Winds are expected to be light, but strong gusts and erratic winds could be associated with thunderstorms. More information is available at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/7609/62198/
Evacuations: Evacuations are dynamic. Klamath County has dropped all evacuation notices; however, the Fremont-Winema National Forest remains closed north of Oregon Route 140. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Emergency Management removed all residences in Lake County outside of the fire’s perimeter from a Level 3 evacuation. County leadership and fire teams ask that Lake County residents remain vigilant to potential wildfire hazards. In particular, areas along Highway 31 north of Monument Rock and south of the community of Summer Lake should “Be Set” to evacuate if necessary. The best way to view the evacuation designation boundaries and details is on the interactive map available at tinyurl.com/bootlegevac
Red Cross Evacuation Shelters: For information or assistance: 1-800-Red-Cross (www.redcrossblog.org/disaster)
Insurance Assistance: For additional information on submitting insurance claims after losing your home or property to a wildfire, please visit https://dfr.oregon.gov/insure/home/storm/Pages/wildfires.aspx or call the state’s team of consumer advocates at 888-877-4894 (toll-free).
Closures: The Fremont-Winema National Forest is now open south of Oregon State Route 140. Closures remain in effect north of the highway to provide for public safety and the safety of firefighters. The full closure order and map are available at https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/fremont-winema/alerts-notices
Smoke: Overall, today will be a generally good to moderate air quality day. Wind flow could bring in smoke from some of the neighboring fires (Jack, Dixie, and others). Models show that smoke from the Jack Fire could affect parts of Crater Late later today into tonight. Smoke from the Bootleg Fire could affect some of the eastern locations in this region, including Paisley and Silver Lake. These effects are likely to continue into tomorrow morning. See: fires.airfire.org/outlooks/southcentraloregon
Fire Information Public Phone: 541-482-1331
Twitter: twitter.com/BootlegFireInfo Hashtags: #BootlegFire #FireYear2021