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Bootleg Fire prompts evacuation orders as it spreads unchecked

Officials said that the fire crossed the Sycan River and has reached the West Spodue project area within the Bly Ranger District.

Posted: Jul 8, 2021 4:33 PM
Updated: Jul 8, 2021 10:42 PM

UPDATE, 07/08/2021 at 9:21 p.m.--- There are additional evacuations tonight on the Bootleg Fire. Level 3 (leave immediately) orders have now been expanded to include Tableland area north of Oregon Pines Road.

The order also includes Sycan Estates north of the town of Beatty. An evacuation center has now been set up at the Beatty Community Center.


CHILOQUIN, Ore. — Fire and law enforcement officials have issued further evacuations — including a Level 3 evacuation order — for the Bootleg Fire as it spreads to the south and east, toward inhabited areas to the north of Beatty.

The upper Tableland area has been placed on a Level 3 "GO" evacuation order, and officials say that they are working to get people out.

"We need to get those folks out of there because fire is definitely in that area," said Brandon Fowler, emergency manager for Klamath County. "They are in danger being there right now."

Level 2 "Bet Set" warnings are in place for the Klamath Forest Estates area. Areas to the east of upper Tableland have also been placed on a Level 2 warning, but officials said that they anticipate that the northern areas of Godowa Springs being upgraded to a Level 3 order tonight as a weather event pushes the fire further southeast.

"Those folks need to be ready to go at a moment's notice," Fowler said. "They're not asked to leave this minute, but they need to be prepared to leave at a moment's notice."

According to Red Cross Cascades, a temporary evacuation shelter has been set up at the Beatty Community Center on 24199 Godowa Springs Road.

The Bootleg Fire covers at least 16,800 acres with containment at just 1 percent, according to a morning update from fire officials.

According to Northwest Incident Management Team 10, fire behavior was "extreme" throughout Wednesday and overnight. The Incident Management Team took command of firefighting efforts at 6 a.m. on Thursday. Firefighters worked to strengthen roads and locate anchor points.

Officials said that the fire crossed the Sycan River and has reached the West Spodue project area within the Bly Ranger District. Forestry crews recently reduced fuels and conducted prescribed burns in this area, which is expected to help firefighters as the fire moves in.

Firefighters will be looking for more opportunities to construct lines and safely engage with the fire, with fire behavior expected to remain extreme due to Red Flag weather conditions in the area through Thursday evening. Structural teams are working on protection for the nearest private properties.

The Office of the Oregon State Fire Marshal has brought in an incident management team and three firefighter task forces from Yamhill, Marion, and Polk counties. They'll be focused on protecting structures and creating defensible space.

There are now eight hand crews, 17 engines, seven dozers, seven water tenders, two helicopters, and eight fixed-wing aircraft assigned to the fire.

The fire was first reported around 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday, quickly spreading amid the profoundly dry vegetation within federal forestlands on the slopes of Fuego Mountain. Officials say that the fire has been running, torching, and spotting within the steep rugged terrain packed with mixed conifer and lodgepole pine.

Drivers in the area should expect to see increased firefighter traffic, and fire officials asked that people use caution or avoid the area as much as possible.

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