PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As the hot and dry conditions continue in Southern Oregon, the Bootleg Fire in Klamath County has grown more than 66,000 acres in 24 hours.
On Saturday morning, the fire was reportedly near 77,000 acres large. The wildfire grew dramatically throughout the day, now burning up to 150,812 acres total. This large acreage now qualifies the fire as a “megafire.”
The risk of extreme fire behavior was so high Sunday, that the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office began issuing citations and threatened to make arrests in order to keep people out of Level 3 evacuation areas. They said some people who have been asked to evacuate are not listening and some people are still traveling in the restricted area.
Fire officials said conditions at the fire were so extreme Saturday, that firefighters had to disengage and move to safety zones.
Sunday morning, officials said the fire grew about four square miles to the east and north. It moved through Sycan Estates, crossed the East-West road, and burned about 8 additional miles along the high voltage powerline corridor for a total of 12 miles. Officials said structures have been lost, but so far, there are no reported fatalities.
Firefighters were able to minimize fire growth on the southwest side of the fire.
“The focus is to hold the fire where it comes down to the… road,” said Operations Section Chief Trainee Bruce Meyer as he gestured at a map during a morning incident update, “and also to improve any kind of prep work along that road. That would include a little bit of dozer work up here in the very northern part of that division.”
In an update shared shortly after 12:30 p.m., Meyer said crews had improved control lines on the southwest edge of the fire and had started mop-up efforts in those areas. Firefighters were improving control lines on the west side and looking for places to establish them on the north, east, and southeast sides. They were starting to establish some lines on the south end.
Fueling the fire is timber and dry-climate brush, but officials said the fuel has record low moisture content. Officials say the conditions escalated Saturday afternoon, resulting in life-threatening risk to the safety of residents, visitors, firefighters and other emergency responders.
The Oregon State Fire Marshal called for help from firefighters around the state. The Multnomah County Task Force was deployed — including fire crews from Portland, Gresham and Corbett — along with firefighters from TVFR. Sunday, crews from Forest Grove deployed to the fire.
Clackamas Fire said a task force from Clackamas County had also been deployed. Firefighters from Clackamas Fire, Canby Fire, Lake Oswego Fire, and the Sandy Fire District are all joining the fight.
“All fire departments have a dual responsibility during wildfire season,” Portland Fire Chief Sara Boone said. “The primary mission is to provide local emergency response coverage as well an obligation under the state’s emergency mobilization plan, to help during wildfire conflagration.”
As of Sunday, about 926 personnel were responding to the wildfire.
Fire managers planned to add more crews to the night shift Sunday because conditions would be better for fighting the fire and building containment lines. They’re also working to protect structures.
Level 3 “Go Now” – Near the town of Sprague River, including the Upper Tableland area north of Oregon Pines Road, north of the town of Beatty, the east side of Godowa Springs Road, and north of the OC and E Trail to the Klamath County Line.
Level 2 “Get Set” – Near the town of Sprague River, including the Klamath Forrest Estates/Moccasin Hills Area, and the west side of Godowa Springs Road, south of Oregon Pines Road and Tableland Road to the river.
Level 1 “Be Ready” – Between Beatty and Bly, 3 miles south of Highway 140 from Yellow Jacket Springs to Fishhole Creek, and the area from the intersection of Sprague River Road and Forbes Road extending east to Godowa Springs and Yellow Jacket Springs and south of the Sprague River 4 miles.
The Red Cross has an evacuation shelter open at the Klamath County Fairgrounds.
Southern Oregon Emergency Aid and Project Spirit are asking anyone with animals, especially large animals, that are under level 1 or 2 evacuation please consider letting them do a planned evacuation immediately. Anyone interested in this service should text 831-235-3031.
Officials say as the fire advances, there is a high probability for additional evacuation notices in the area.