BLY, Ore. — The introduction of rain and cloud cover over the Bootleg Fire on Tuesday helped fire crews make progress, a welcome break from the unrelenting heat and dryness that have prevailed for weeks in Klamath and Lake counties.
As of Wednesday morning, the Bootleg Fire was estimated at 413,400 acres with containment at 53 percent.
Fire officials said that the west side of the fire received steady and light rain on Tuesday that allowed for more direct attack on the fire's edge, where fire behavior has moderated. The moisture helped primarily with fine fuels, but larger vegetation like the ubiquitous stands of timber remains "critically dry." The fire still displayed some tree torching on Tuesday, but there were fewer spot fires than in previous days.
“The cooler temperatures and precipitation yesterday were a welcome change,” said Incident Meteorologist Chris Foltz. “A wetting rain fell yesterday dropping as much as 0.6 of an inch on the western area of the fire. The eastern side was a bit drier, but still received a tenth of an inch. Not all areas of the fire received rain, but overall the cooler, more humid conditions are beneficial for the firefighting crews."
To the east, crews continued mop-up on a spot fire that took hold the day prior. With the introduction of more moisture, crews expressed no concerns about the area on Wednesday. Oregon National Guard crews have joined efforts to secure the perimeter and put out hot spots on the eastern flank of the fire, with crews working near Old Truck Road around areas burned in the 2018 Watson Creek Fire.
The Bootleg Fire remains most active to the north among trees along the Sycan River, but officials said that wetter areas of the Sycan Marsh should remain unburned. Fire activity to the south and west has largely died down, with crews on monitor and patrol status.
Rain and cloud cover kept humidity levels above 60 percent on Tuesday, though the rain tapered off overnight. Isolated thunderstorms are still possible on the northwest side of the fire over the next few days, accompanied by the return of hotter temperatures and dropping humidity.
Klamath County on Tuesday lifted all evacuation levels on the western and southern side of the fire, and Lake County reduced some areas of evacuations that remain in place to the east and north. The interactive evacuation map can be accessed here.