Today firefighters, emergency managers and other public safety officials faced the fifth day in a row of extreme, intense fire behavior on the Bootleg Fire, as hot, dry, windy weather persists in the area.
These conditions escalated this afternoon, resulting in immediate, life-threatening risk to the safety of area residents, visitors, firefighters and other emergency responders.
Due to public safety concerns and immediate threat to life, the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office took the rare step of citing or arresting those who remained in or were trying to re-enter the Level 3 evacuation areas in the Bootleg Fire Area. As the fire advances, there is a high probability for additional evacuation notices in the area.
Conditions today were so extreme that firefighters needed to disengage and move to predetermined safety zones. Fire managers evaluated conditions and looked for opportunities to reengage firefighters safely.
Wildland and structure protection Incident Commanders Al Lawson and Lance Lightly stated “Our first priority is to provide for firefighter and public safety. Removing our firefighters from these conditions is always our guidance under such extreme conditions.”
“Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Thirtymile Fire, where four firefighters tragically lost their lives,” said Lawson. “The fire behavior we are seeing on the Bootleg Fire is among the most extreme you can find and firefighters are seeing conditions they have never seen before. We understand the frustration of the community as the fire continues to grow. We also need to ensure our firefighters are able to engage safely so that they can return home at the end of this assignment to their families.”
Area residents and visitors are also asked to continue to use extreme caution with anything that can spark a wildfire, especially as fuels increasingly dry out. A small spark can quickly grow to several hundred acres in the current conditions.