Bootleg fire

Two weeks since it began burning on the Fremont-Winema National Forest, the Bootleg Fire was closing in on 400,000 acres as of Tuesday morning, July 20. Some of this acreage came from the Log Fire, which was burning eight miles southwest of Summer Lake, and has now merged with the Bootleg Fire.

The Bootleg had burned 388,359 acres by Tuesday morning. Containment of the incident has reached 30% and 2,250 personnel are assigned to the fire, which is burning 11 miles northeast of Sprague River. More evacuation notices have been issued for areas of Lake County.

Forest Service Public Information Officer Sarah Gracey reported that as of Tuesday morning, the Bootleg had burned 67 single residences and 117 minor structures — which include garages, outbuildings and carports.

A multi-agency fire update issued Tuesday noted that extreme fire behavior Monday afternoon and evening meant firefighters have had to move to safety zones for ten days in a row.

On the east end of the blaze, significant fire movement led to fire spotting over Forest Road 28 toward Summer Lake. Firefighters working on the north edge of the incident made progress constructing dozer line overnight Monday and during the early morning Tuesday while temperatures were cooler and winds had lessened.

On Monday afternoon, July 19, due to increasing winds and temperatures, the fire moved across Coyote Creek, leading to firefighters refocusing on protecting structures in the Sycan Marsh Nature Conservancy.

Firefighters have been patrolling over 40 miles of fireline on the southern and western flanks of the fire. During patrols, crews look for places to mitigate risks to the controlled fireline.

Gracey said that fireline on the southern flank — from Preacher Flatts to Mitchell Monument — is holding well. Firefighters are patrolling and looking for any signs of heat. If they find trees with smoldering duff, she said, firefighters will go in and rake out the area and spray water on the tree as a single tree throwing up enough sparks could be a threat to a containment line.

The area off of Forest Road 28 toward Summer Lake has the highest level of fire activity, Gracey said. Crews have also been contending with slop fires which push out over the containment line.

Scott Babinowich, public information officer with Pacific Northwest Team 2, said the merging of the Log and Bootleg fires did not affect operations a great deal as it was something crews had anticipated. However, it does allow firefighters to focus on the bigger picture, he said.

There is a lot more confidence in containment lines on the western portion of the fire, Babinowich noted, which allows teams to think long term about shifting resources to more vulnerable areas. More resources are being shifted to the eastern portion of the fire.

Babinowich said Tuesday that operations would continue in a similar fashion, with crews monitoring containment lines and looking for hot spots, as well as looking to engage the fire where possible.

New evacuation orders implemented Monday, July 19 are as follows:

Level 3 – GO NOW! From Mile Post 73 on Highway 31 south along Winter Ridge to Government Harvey Pass, then east to the Highway 31 and Government Harvey junction, then back north to include both sides of Highway 31. This area is south of the community of Summer Lake.

Level 2 – Be Set

From Picture Rock Pass south along Winter Ridge to Mile Post 73 and east of the middle of Summer Lake to Government Harvey Pass, then east of Slide Lake Trailhead to west of the Red House Road junction with Highway 31, then back north including Summer Lake Flats and the Ana Subdivision.

To view the most current evacuation levels, see the interactive fire map at https://bit.ly/3kB8WwP.

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