The Bootleg Fire began on Tuesday, July 6, 2021 from a lightning strike. The fire is burning 15 miles northwest of Beatty, Oregon in Fremont-Winema National Forest. The Bootleg fire quickly grew and has now become the third largest documented wildfire in Oregon history.

The top two wildfires in Oregon history are the Long Draw Fire, which burned 557,640 acres in 2012, and the Biscuit Fire that burned about 460,000 acres in 2002. The Bootleg Fire falls in third place with 413,400 acres burned in Southern Oregon this year. So far this wildfire season, this fire is the largest fire burning in the West. The Bootleg Fire burned approximately 3,000 acres the day after the fire ignited. The fire spread rapidly, doubling in size many days in a row and displaying extreme fire behavior. Officials on the ground reported that the fire behavior was so erratic, it was creating its own weather patterns in the area. The Bootleg Fire began to change the wind directions, generated pyrocumulus clouds, and created lightning.

Fire Outlook

Lack of seasonal precipitation this year has allowed for the Bootleg Fire’s continual growth. Despite wetting rains in the area, fire activity and flare ups continue amongst the extremely dry fuels. Fire behavior is expected to become more active as warm temperatures further dry out the fuels and as wind gusts pick up in the area. Spotting is an increasing concern as fuels continue to dry out from the recent rains. A Fire Weather Watch is in effect for the fire area through Friday. Additionally, a Red Flag Warning is in effect to the west of the fire due to thunderstorms. Scattered rain and isolated thunderstorms are possible throughout the weekend, which raises the concern of more lightning in the area.

Fire Facts

  • As of: July 28, 2021
  • Location: Fremont-Winema National Forest, OR
  • Size: 413,400 acres
  • Containment: 53%
  • Fire Behavior: Active burning through dry fuels, with spotting up to a 1/2 mile
  • Structures Threatened: About 137
  • Structures Destroyed: Estimated 161 residences along with 247 outbuildings
  • Evacuations: Klamath County has dropped all evacuation notices; however, the Fremont-Winema National Forest remains closed. Lake County released an announcement of lowered evacuation levels. Please visit here for up to date evacuation information.
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