BLY, Ore. — Though Oregon officials underlined in a press conference on Tuesday that the threat of human-caused wildfires is very real, fire officials have concluded that the massive Bootleg Fire was started by a lightning strike at its origin point on the slopes of Fuego Mountain in Klamath County.
As of Tuesday morning, the Bootleg Fire was estimated at 394,407 acres with containment at 32 percent.
Fire officials said that weather conditions over the fire moderated somewhat on Tuesday, with reduced wind speeds, lower temperatures, and slightly higher humidity. While slight, the change allowed fire crews a much-needed opportunity to build and improve fire lines — conditions that are expected to continue on Wednesday.
Crews on the northern edge of the fire constructed lines to Long Creek, and firefighters scouted areas to tie into an anchor point near the Sycan March Nature Conservancy. The better weather allowed crews to build dozer line directly along the fire's edge to the north and east boundary of the erstwhile Log Fire, which merged into the Bootleg Fire earlier this week.
The fire is expected to grow to the northeast toward Winter Ridge and Summer Lake, and crews are "going direct" on the fire while working to build contingency lines between the fire and those communities.
On the southeastern flank of the fire, officials said that the Bootleg Fire pushed into a burn scar, decreasing some of the fire's activity.
"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," officials said.
Firefighters are still patrolling along the containment lines of the south and west flanks of the fire, searching for areas to mitigate risks to the line. Residents that have been able to return to their homes could see unburned fuels inside the fire that will continue to burn and smoke.
Meanwhile, the Oregon State Fire Marshal's Office (OSFM) Green Team is pulling out after working on the fire for two weeks, to be replaced by the Red Team. They'll continue to work on protecting structures in the fire's path.
“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.