KLAMATH COUNTY, OR (KPTV) - Fire crews are still trying to get control of the massive Bootleg Fire burning in southern Oregon.

There is no containment on the fire, which has burned about 12 miles of Klamath County.

Fire crews say that conditions have made the firefight extremely difficult. They say it has been extremely, dry, hot and windy, and at times firefighters have been called off of fighting the fire for their own safety.

Dozens of families have had to flee their homes, under Level 3 evacuations, which means “leave now.”

“We barely made it out of there,” said Tim McCarley.

McCarley and his family learned they had to leave their home on Friday. Officials told them their evacuation had to be fast.

“They told us to get the hell out cause if not, you’re dead,” he said.

Like many other families, they had little time to gather their things, and left everything behind.

“I don’t know if my place is lost. I’m a retired deputy sheriff out of Wasco County and my whole life savings, everything that we have together that we put into this place, it was part of my bucket list and I don’t know if it’s there or what,” McCarley said.

The family has been staying at the Red Cross shelter in Klamath Falls. Red Cross says about 100 people stayed at the shelter on Sunday night.

“Everybody does the best they can under the circumstances, but it’s really hard when people don’t know if they’ll have a home to go back to,” said Darrell Fuller, a Red Cross volunteer.

Bootleg Fire

The Bootleg Fire has exploded to more than 150,000 acres and is now considered a mega fire. The Red Cross is warning people to be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice.

“You could have a sheriff’s deputy pound on your door at 3 a.m. and say ‘you have to leave now,’” said Fuller.

McCarley says when he and his family left their home, the flames were just minutes behind them.

“Like a firenado, it would go up and then it would just go this direction then that direction. 60, 70, 80 feet, catch these trees over here and then just explosions, boom, boom, boom, boom as these trees were exploding,” he said.

The fire has required help from across the state. Crews have been sent from Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties.

“This is a big fire. It’s got a big need for a lot of resources and a lot of people to do a lot of hard work,” said Alan Bronson, a lieutenant firefighter paramedic with Portland Fire & Rescue.

McCarley now has to wait until they are able to get back to their home to see if there is anything left. He says that waiting is the hardest part. But, he says his family is just thankful to still be here.

“I thank my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ,” he said.

No lives have been reported lost in this fire.

Fire officials say the Bootleg Fire has destroyed seven homes and 43 other structures. Damage to buildings and infrastructure is still being assessed.

Copyright 2021 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved. 

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