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Klamath County deputies arresting people violating Level 3 evacuation orders as Bootleg Fire burns 200,000+ acres

The Klamath County Sheriff's Office said it will arrest people who refuse to leave Level 3 evacuation areas.

KLAMATH COUNTY, Ore. — The Bootleg Fire burning in Klamath County tripled in size over the weekend. As of Tuesday morning, the fire has grown to 201,923 acres and it is 0% contained. 

The Oregon State Fire Mashal's Office said seven homes and structures have been destroyed and nearly 2,000 others are threatened.

A Level 3 evacuation order remains in place for some residents.

The Klamath County Sheriff's Office has started to issue citations and will arrest people who remain in or return to Level 3 evacuation areas, according to a press release on Saturday. The sheriff's office said some people have not followed warnings to evacuate and continue to travel within restricted areas and violating the closure restrictions "interferes with firefighting and lifesaving efforts."

Credit: Google Earth
Bootleg Fire burning near Klamath Falls

Gert Zoutendijk with the Oregon State Fire Marshal's office said fire crews need to be able to move freely on narrow roads. If there are people and firefighters trying to escape the flames, the situation could be deadly.

"One of the deputies was escorting four different vehicles with people inside in a Level 3 and the fire was licking at their heels, they were trying to outdrive the fire," said Zoutendijk. "They got to one area they ended up having to turn around because their escape route was blocked and they had to go the other way, that is what prompted the Sheriff to say we are taking this seriously because his deputy, those people were all at risk of potentially dying or getting injured."

The sheriff's office has not said how many citations they have given out or whether they have arrested anyone.

Strike teams from around California have mobilized to help crews in Oregon fight the Bootleg Fire.

The Bootleg fire broke out on July 6 and it's located east of Chiloquin and northwest of the town of Beatty in the Fremont-Winema National Forest.

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