The Golden Fire north of Bonanza, Oregon was estimated this afternoon at 2,052 acres with about 9 percent containment, after it burned 43 homes and 43 outbuildings during its initial runs. The incident management team — jointly staffed by the Oregon Department of Forestry and the State Fire Marshal’s Office — said 440 firefighters were working on the fire.
Fire behavior’s been active with wind-driven runs, but crews are now mostly holding the fire, which is burning in short grass, timber, and dry brush. High temperatures and low RH are expected to persist for at least the coming 48 hours, with winds picking up in the afternoons; incident managers are concerned that a wind switch from the north later this week could test the fire’s containment lines.
The Golden Fire is about 11 miles north of Bonanza, Oregon.
Temperatures in the 90s with wind gusts up to 20 mph contributed to extreme fire behavior during initial attack. The fire spread rapidly in dry fuels and most of the destroyed homes were lost during the fire’s initial run on July 22. Since then downed powerlines, burned snags, and road conditions have limited crews’ access to portions of the fire. Resources with the State Fire Marshal’s Office are working on hotspots and mop-up around structures to protect additional homes.
Community meeting: Golden Fire Unified Command will host an outdoor information meeting this evening at 7 p.m. at the Bonanza School on Mission Street. Cooperating agencies include the U.S. Forest Service, BLM and Klamath County; no seating is available and residents are asked to bring lawn chairs. Details and more information on the fire are available from email@example.com
Despite near-Red-Flag conditions, crews the last couple days were able to strengthen lines around the fire and take down snags and hazard trees around the perimeter. A fiber-optic cable for major portions of Klamath and Lake counties was severed by the fire, causing loss of 911 and Lakeview Interagency Fire Center dispatch operations, along with Lakeview hospital, pharmacy, county-wide internet, and phone service. Oregon Governor Tina Kotek invoked the Conflagration Act on July 22, boosting available resources from out of the area.
KDRV-TV reported that the number of destroyed homes is expected to rise as assessment teams are able to safely access those parts of the fire.
“Our hearts go out to the Bonanza community and those affected by the Golden Fire,” said Matt Howard, incident commander with ODF Team 2. “We grieve with the community and your loss. Our goal on this fire has been, and will continue to be, to contain this fire to minimize its impact. Our job now is to fully suppress this fire so the recovery process can begin. That is our commitment to you.”
KOIN-TV reported that FEMA announced yesterday it had authorized federal funding after determining destruction from the fire would constitute a “major disaster.”
The fire started Saturday on Bly Mountain, about 18 miles east of Klamath Falls.
The American Red Cross and the Klamath County Emergency Response Team have set up a shelter at Bonanza High School. The fire damaged fiber-optic communication lines from Klamath County to Lake County. At the time of the state’s FEMA request, the fire threatened homes around Bly Mountain and the communities of Beatty, Bonanza, and Dairy along with Highway 140 and Bonneville Power Administration transmission lines.