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Crews see hope on Oregon’s Bootleg Fire, as surveyors offer new look at damage

Firing crews set a backfire to contain the Bootleg Fire in this photo taken July 25, 2021.
Bootleg Fire Incident Command via InciWeb
Firing crews set a backfire to contain the Bootleg Fire in this photo taken July 25, 2021.

The nation’s largest wildfire, the Bootleg Fire near Klamath Falls, was 53% contained Tuesday morning, after scorching more than 410,000 acres of forest land.

Firefighters say cooler, calmer weather has improved firefighting conditions, and that’s expected to continue for at least a few more days. In a Tuesday morning update, crews said they’re focused on eliminating hot spots and using small controlled burns to better secure the fire’s edges.

Since lighting sparked the Bootleg Fire on July 6, more than 90 fire departments from across the country have responded. On Monday, six crews of Oregon National Guardsmen joined the effort. More than 2,000 people remain assigned to the massive blaze.

Surveying experts were able to access remote areas that have seen significant damage Monday, and on Tuesday morning they offered a more thorough assessment of damage in Klamath and Lake counties. They determined that 161 homes have been destroyed — about 90 more than they had previously tallied. They also counted 247 destroyed outbuildings and 342 destroyed vehicles. Other properties could also be damaged and destroyed beyond what crews have been able to survey and count.

About 2,500 hundred homes are still threatened. An interactive map of online evacuations is available here.

Elsewhere in Oregon, two other wildfires have grown to more than 20,000 acres this week. The Elbow Creek Fire near Wallowa was 32% contained at more than 22,000 acres of Tuesday morning. And the Jack Fire in Douglas County was 58% contained at more than 21,000 acres.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting

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