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Bootleg Fire Draws Stretched Resources From Around Oregon

Sixty-four members of the Oregon National Guard were deployed to the fire camp in Chiloquin, OR on Wednesday to assist with evacuations and road closures on the Bootleg Fire.
South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership
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Sixty-four members of the Oregon National Guard were deployed to the fire camp in Chiloquin, OR on Wednesday to assist with evacuations and road closures on the Bootleg Fire.

On Wednesday the fire continued to expand east from Klamath into Lake County. 2,000 residents were under some form of evacuation notice according to emergency managers and several thousand structures were considered threatened by the fire.

After a week of uncontrolled growth, firefighters had reached 5% containment.

Sixty-four members of the Oregon National Guard have arrived in Klamath County to help law enforcement with evacuations and road closures, and to keep people out of burned areas.

“We are usually the last in and the first out,” says Major Stephen Bomar, director of public affairs for the Oregon Military Department. “When all other state and commercial resources are limited, that’s when the Oregon National Guard is usually requested.”

Bomar says the Guard has been called out earlier than past years to assist with this year’s wildfires.

Other wildfire resources are stretched, from personnel with the state Fire Marshal’s office to the Department of Forestry to the Forest Service.

“We simply don’t have the resources for another start,” says Marcus Kauffman with the Oregon Department of Forestry, one of the groups managing the fire. “We are relying on the public to be responsible with fire and not create another spark and not create another fire.”

Kauffman says the fire’s behavior has been alternating between growing and stabilizing this week. That’s because of smoke inversions that slow its growth. Once the smoke blows out, the fire kicks up again.

Copyright 2021 Jefferson Public Radio

Erik Neumann is a radio producer and writer. A native of the Pacific Northwest, his work has appeared on public radio stations and in magazines along the West Coast. He received his Bachelor's Degree in geography from the University of Washington and a Master's in Journalism from UC Berkeley. Besides working at KUER, he enjoys being outside in just about every way possible.