The Bootleg Fire is now the third largest wildfire in Oregon since the year 1900. And with containment at 38% on the lightning-caused fire first detected July 6, the blaze could still climb to the top of that list. The fire has burned 399,359 acres as of Thursday and now ranks third largest in terms of acreage after overtaking the Buzzard Complex (2014, 395,747 acres), the Holloway (2012, 245,000 acres) and Bandon (1936, 287,000 acres) fires. Only the Long Draw (2012, 558,198 acres) and Biscuit (2002, 500,000 acres) fires have burned more acres.
And the Long Draw was a range fire in southeastern Oregon, so in terms of forest fires the Biscuit and Bootleg are the biggest in modern Oregon history. The Biscuit burned in southwest Oregon; no other fire in modern times has burned so many acres in the southcentral Oregon region. But is this really one of the biggest fires ever?
An expert at Oregon State University says no.
KCBY-TV CBS 11 North Bend
The Bighorn National Forest said on Wednesday morning that conditions remain unsafe for fire crews to try to construct a direct fire line adjacent to the Crater Ridge Fire burning about 12 miles north of Medicine Mountain.
The remoteness of the fire, steep terrain in the area and “continuous fuels” make direct work unsafe so fire crews are instead using an indirect strategy to respond to the fire, which remains 0% contained.
The indirect strategy means that fire crews need more room to work and the forest closure area in effect is therefore “considerably larger than the fire itself,” according to the Bighorn National Forest. The fire, which was initially discovered on Saturday, July 17, has burned an estimated 383 acres. “Please respect the area closure, allowing firefighters to work without concern for the safety of public visitors in the path of the fire, and reducing traffic hazards to fire crews,” the Wednesday morning update states.
Oil City News
As multiple major fires burn around the state, Cal Fire is sending in air support to help firefighters on the ground.
“So far this year, we’re … probably at least 163,000 acres above what we were last year,” Tyson Federici, a Cal Fire apparatus engineer, told FOX40.
This year, they are sending out massive air tankers earlier than ever before to help knock down flames up and down the state, Cal Fire said. “Without them, I think we’d be seeing our fires get a lot bigger a lot quicker,” Federici said.
Cal Fire’s Aviation Headquarters runs a 24-hour operation out of McClellan Air Park, making sure each tanker is fueled, maintained and filled with retardant to be ready at a moment’s notice.
Tuesday, crews filled tankers with 180,000 gallons of retardant alone.
Since the beginning of June, they’ve dropped 1.3 million gallons of retardant on fires across California.
KTXL-TV Fox 40 Sacramento
Another group of Utah firefighters is heading out of state to help crews in Montana who are dealing with several wild fires there.
Two dozen Utah firefighters from around the state are answering this latest call for assistance from another state. They are part of the emergency management assistance compact, team members number three and four.
They are right now on their way to Billings, Montana where they will meet and brief with crews on the ground there to figure out where they are most needed. The goal of this interstate compact system is exactly what’s happening right now, when one state needs assistance they can call on and receive support and resources from neighboring states.
KSTU-TV FOX 13 Salt Lake City
The Tennessee Division of Forestry announced Wednesday it had deployed 36 firefighters to help fight the wildfires that continue to burn and spread in the western United States. In all, 83 large wildfires are currently burning across 13 states, the National Interagency Fire Center said Tuesday. The State Department of Agriculture reported the firefighters are members of seven incident management teams deployed to the west. The state also provided eight pieces of equipment to assist in the fighting the fires. Oregon's massive Bootleg Fire, at 616 square miles, was 32% contained as of Wednesday morning. Tennessee firefighters are assisting in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Florida, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, California, Oregon, Idaho and Washington.