BLY, Ore. — Conditions on the Bootleg Fire continue to improve this week for crews working to contain it, and officials now have a better idea of how many homes and other buildings were destroyed when the historic fire was at its peak.
As of Tuesday, the Bootleg Fire was estimated at 410,731 acres with containment still at 53 percent.
"Yesterday, a thorough damage assessment was finalized that tallied the number of buildings damaged and destroyed in Klamath and Lake counties," officials said in a Tuesday update. "This fire has a very large footprint and it is important to fire managers that the impact to people’s homes and other structures be accurately examined and counted. Surveying experts were able to safely access remote areas where the fire has caused significant damage and provide updated reporting to fire managers."
According to that latest assessment, the Bootleg Fire has claimed 161 homes and 247 outbuildings. Flames also destroyed 342 vehicles. These numbers could still continue to increase as firefighters and surveyors penetrate further into the interior of the fire.
As for the firefight itself, changing weather conditions have helped crews gain the upper hand on most areas of the fire, with the northern side posing the last major challenge. Lines on the southern end of the fire continue to hold and are in patrol status, with crews searching for hot spots and burning out pockets of fuel to widen the safe perimeter.
To the northwest, officials said that rugged terrain has hindered suppression efforts.
"There is a concentration of snags, downed logs, and slash that provide heavy fuels to the fire. And while progress is being made, this area continues to be a challenge," officials said. "Favorable weather today will create a good window for direct attack."
On Monday, firefighters extinguished a small spot fire that jumped the perimeter on the northeast size, keeping it at less than three acres. Officials said that the potential for spotting should fall on Tuesday with the changing weather, though crews will remain vigilant to the threat.
"Temperatures are expected to cool today with an increase in humidity and likelihood of isolated showers continuing through tomorrow. The mild weather will have a short-term calming effect on the fire behavior," officials said. "But due to the extremely dry conditions and fuels, as the week progresses and temperatures rise, aggressive fire behavior is likely to quickly rebound."
A new command team took over leadership of Bootleg Fire efforts on Tuesday morning, with the Alaska Incident Management Team transitioning in. Incident Commander Norm McDonald thanked the Pacific Northwest Team 2, Oregon State Fire Marshal Red Team, and Oregon Department of Forestry Team 1 for leaving the new team in such a good position.
"We will continue operations with a focus on the safety of the community and our firefighters,” said Commander McDonald. “We’re continuing with community and agency partners to suppress the fire as effectively as possible to protect timber, ranchlands, and other local values.”
For those who lost property to the Bootleg Fire, officials recommended visiting Oregon's wildfire and insurance site or calling the state’s team of consumer advocates at 888-877-4894 (toll-free).