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Golden Fire destroys 43 homes in Klamath County, according to initial assessments

Crews mopping up the Golden Fire.
Marcus Kauffman
Crews mopping up the Golden Fire.

The fast-moving Golden Fire, located 11 miles north of Bonanza, in Klamath County, has destroyed 43 residences and 43 outbuildings, according to initial assessments from the Oregon State Fire Marshal.

OSFM personnel began damage assessments on Monday, the first time conditions allowed access to do so since the fire started on Saturday.

The number of damaged buildings is expected to change as task forces continue to work, according to OSFM. 317 homes remained on some level of evacuation on Monday.

“Our hearts go out to the Bonanza community and those affected by the Golden Fire,” said Matt Howard, ODF Team 2 Incident Commander in a statement.

The fire remained at 2,052 acres with 0% containment as of Monday night.

While some level 3 evacuations have been downgraded, they remain in effect for all residences east of Highway 140 between Polar Bear Lane and Jaguar Lane.

On Sunday FEMA Region 10 approved Oregon’s first Fire Management Assistance Grant of 2023 to fight the Golden Fire. According to FEMA, the request allows federal funds to pay for 75% of the state’s eligible firefighting costs. It was authorized because the fire threatened to constitute a major disaster.

At the time of the request the fire threatened the communities of Bly Mountain, Beatty, Bonanza and Dairy, as well as Bonneville Power Administration transmission lines.

Despite challenging conditions, crews strengthened control lines around the fire to hold its current footprint on Monday, according to InciWeb. Crews began removing dead timber in order to safely begin mop-up operations in less-active areas.

A community meeting will be held by Golden Fire Unified Command on Tues., July 25 from 7-8 p.m. at Bonanza School at 31601 Mission St. in Bonanza, Oregon.

Erik Neumann is JPR's news director. He earned a master's degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and joined JPR as a reporter in 2019 after working at NPR member station KUER in Salt Lake City.