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Catching up with Utah's own helping fight wildfires in Oregon

Posted at 5:25 PM, Jul 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-27 19:32:12-04

PAISLEY, Oregon — Utah firefighters are among thousands working to contain the nation's largest fire burning close to a half-million acres of Oregon forest.

More than 40 firefighters are positioned near the small community of Paisley on the northeast side of the Bootleg Fire. They left for Utah nine days ago.

READ: Utah firefighters head to Oregon to battle wildfires

“It’s a big fire and the weather keeps changing," said Unified Fire's Patrick Costin. "It just goes for miles and miles."

Costin says firefighters from nine Utah communities work 14-hour days with a two-hour commute back to the camp.

Crews focus on hot spots and preventing flames from crossing a road being used as a fire line.

"You’d like to have a crew in every single potential problem spot, but due to the sheer size of it, you have to pick and choose which spots you can actually work on," said Costin.

As of Tuesday, the Bootleg Fire mapped out to 640 square miles. For perspective, that’s significantly larger than the entire Salt Lake Valley.

Since July 6, more than 90 fire departments from across the country responded, totaling more than 2,000 people.

READ: Crews make progress on huge Oregon blaze

"It feels great to help out neighboring states with stuff. We just know that if Utah has a huge fire, it would be exactly the same -- you’d see the Oregon firefighters and Washington firefighters running to help us," said Costin.

By Tuesday, half the fire was contained. Firefighters expect to be back at the end of the week.