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'I just couldn’t believe it': Bootleg Fire leaves lasting impacts on Sycan Estates area

More than 100 homes have been confirmed destroyed according to the Klamath County Sheriff's Office, including several homes in the Sycan Estates.

Posted: Jul 23, 2021 5:30 PM
Updated: Jul 23, 2021 6:14 PM

SYCAN ESTATES, Ore. -- The Bootleg Fire has devastated almost everything in its path.

"It's all gone," said Rick Meyer, a resident of the Sycan Estates who lost his home to the Bootleg Fire.

In the last two weeks, the flames have killed thousands of trees, hundreds of animals, and destroyed dozens upon dozens of homes across more than 400,000 acres.

The Klamath County Sheriff's Office confirmed on Friday, July 23, that the fire has destroyed 112 homes and 169 outbuildings.

"Nothing that I can think of here that was in the cabin or the storage shed was salvageable," Meyer said.

Both Meyer and his wife were both away from their home in the Sycan Estates, when the Bootleg Fire took off more than two weeks ago. At first, Meyer thought that he should return home to protect his property of more than 10 years, but then had a change of heart.

"I was going to come over here and for some reason, something told me in the middle of the night that I shouldn't do it," said Meyer. "I think it was God talking to me saying 'nothing you can do Rick."'

It wasn't until a few days later that Meyer got a call from some of his friends, who stayed in the Sycan Estates to protect their homes, that he learned his home didn't make it.

"I just didn't have words for it," he said. "I mean I just couldn't believe it."

Meyer was in complete shock when he was finally able to return home, to discover that his childhood dream is now ash and debris.

"I had a childhood dream of building a cabin in the forest and when I retired, I started building," Meyer said. "It was gut wrenching just gut wrenching. I mean, just, I don't have words for it."

Rick Meyer wasn't the only Sycan Estates resident to lose their home in the last two weeks. Russell King and Fawn Smullin had moved up to the area in the last year. The couple putting hours upon hours of blood, sweat and tears into their new home. Now, all of their hard work, in the form of rubble.

"I was so upset," said King about return backing to the area to discover that their home was destroyed. "It was a roller coaster of emotions."

"It was soul wrenching," said Smullin. "To have an entire year of hard work burned down in hours. There are no words."

Several homes in the community were able to make it through the ordeal, thanks to community members stepping up to protect their neighbors home.

One of those homes to survive belong to Jeff Ford. Ford along with other neighbors and friends battled the Bootleg Fire for hours when it passed through, making sure that not only his home survived, but other as well.

However, even with his home and his loved one safe from the Bootleg Fire, the devastation in the surrounding areas has made a lasting impact.

"The forest will probably never be the same," Ford said. "It's going to take a lifetime or two for it to come back to what it was. That's just the way it is."

While other members of the community, who's homes are still standing, are just thankful that no one in their community who stayed behind, perished in the flames.

"People get killed in fires and no one has died in this fire," said Sycan Estates Resident Alice Ray. "No firefighters. No homeowners. It was a miracle."

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