Bootleg fire meaning: What is the Oregon blaze named after?

Eve Edwards July 25, 2021
Bootleg fire meaning: What is the Oregon blaze named after?
Photo by Mathieu Lewis-Rolland/Getty Images

As the Bootleg fire continues to rage through Oregon, you might be curious as to the meaning behind its name.

The United States has seen a concerning increase in wildfires over the past few years. While the landscape – particularly its West Coast – is prone to these strong blazes, as the effects of climate change are worsening in the United States, the fires become harder to control.

Currently, the Bootleg fire is just one of more than eighty large active wildfires raging across thirteen states. They have charred around 1.3 million acres of land over the past weeks, an area larger than Delaware.

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Photo by Mathieu Lewis-Rolland/Getty Images

What is the Bootleg fire?

A lightning strike is responsible for starting the Bootleg fire, striking on 6 July 2021. It is largely affecting Klamath County, which sits just north of the Oregon-California border.

Nearing three weeks on and the fire continues to rage across Oregon, with more than 2,300 firefighters battling the blaze.

As of Saturday, 24 July, firefighters had contained about 42% percent of the fire. However, the fire did jump containment lines the day prior.

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Bootleg fire’s meaning explained: What is it named after?

Typically, extreme weather conditions and natural disasters are given specific names to help identify and monitor them. Oftentimes, the general public are unaware of what has led to that specific name being chosen.

In this instance, some are even wondering whether the Bootleg fire is a specific type of wildfire, rather than just a name for the blaze. One confused Twitter user wrote: “I can’t find a definition. Is it just a name given to the fire or some kind of fire?”

It turns out to just be a name. The Bootleg fire is named after a local creek, Bootleg Spring, reportedly nearby to where the blaze originated.

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However, Bootleg Spring in Oregon is actually miles away from where the fire is currently. Bootleg Spring is listed as closer to the Malheur National Forest in Harney County than Klamath County where the fire is raging.

It could be that there are more than one Bootleg Springs in Oregon, with only one listed on the maps.

One vented their frustration at the lack of geographical identity used in these names: “It bothers me how they name these fires. Cutesy little names give people no clue where they are. This [Bootleg fire] near Pelland Spring is NE of a 6,700′ mountain which has a name. Why not name it so people can associate geographically?”

Some, on the other hand, think it is an amusing name in spite of its bleak reality.


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Eve spends her days writing about everything culture-related. From celebrity news to music, film and television, Eve covers all bases. When she’s not writing you can find her making music or mastering the art of homemade pasta.