BLY, Ore. — For the tenth day in a row, firefighters working on the massive Bootleg Fire straddling Klamath and Lake counties were forced to retreat before the onslaught of intense and unpredictable fire activity over the evening and afternoon.
Fire officials said that parts of the fire received trace amounts of rain from thunderstorms on Monday evening, but the rain did little to moderate the fire's spread. As of the Monday morning, the Bootleg Fire's size was estimated at 388,359 acres with containment at 30 percent.
On the northeastern flank of the fire, the main Bootleg Fire at last grew to merge with the smaller Log Fire. Heavy smoke cover over the area helped decrease fire activity so that crews could improve on their fire lines.
To the east, flames spotted over Forest Road 28 toward Summer Lake. Crews have been trying to fortify the 28 Road to halt the fire there, and similar efforts have been underway on the 34 Road to the southeast. Officials said that the fire has "slopped or spotted" over both roads in several areas.
"If they are not successful in the next 24 hours, they will fall back to structure protection in the Summer Lake community, with possible Hwy 31 closure and a burn out operation to remove fuels between the residential areas and the main fire," the Incident Management Team said in a statement.
Along the fire's northern edge, firefighters reported progress building dozer lines through the night and early morning hours, taking advantage of the cooler temperatures and calmer winds. By afternoon, the renewed winds and heat pushed the fire across Coyote Creek as fire crews set to protecting structures at the Sycan Marsh Nature Conservancy. Overnight, crews were able to build dozer line to Long Creek and establish an anchor point near the Conservancy.
"In the north toward Silver Lake, firefighters plan to close the gap of fireline between Long Creek and the anchor point at Nature Conservancy structures," officials said. "Firefighters are preparing secondary fireline and scouting for contingency firelines in all areas of fire growth."
The fire has been much calmer on the south and west sides of the fire, where firefighters continue to patrol more than 40 miles of fire line. Officials said that there are areas of heat in several spots, including in the Preacher Flats area. Crews patrolling the line look for places to mitigate any potential risks to the line.
With some evacuation orders lifted in these areas of the fire, fire officials continue to warn that hazardous hot spots and fire-damaged trees remain, necessitating caution. Unburned fuels in the fire's perimeter will likely continue to burn and smoke for weeks.
“Fighting this fire is a marathon, not a sprint,” said Rob Allen, Incident Commander for PNW Incident Management Team 2. “We’re in this for as long as it takes to safely confine this monster.”