Crews working the Bootleg Fire have done their best to fortify a historic landmark not far from the encroaching blaze.
The interpretive signs at the Mitchell Recreation Area — the only place in the United States where Americans were killed as a direct result of enemy action during World War II — have been wrapped in heat-resistant material, said Marcus Kauffman, public information officer with Oregon Department of Forestry’s incident management team 1.
The heavily forested monument is the site where a pregnant woman and her Sunday school class of five children were killed in May 1945 by one of the estimated 9,000 balloon bombs that were drifted over the Pacific Ocean from the Japanese mainland. In the woods, the children accidentally detonated the remains of a bomb which killed them instantly.
Ponderosa pines in the area still bear shrapnel scars from the blast. Those trees have also been wrapped in the heat-resistant material, which Kauffman described as a sort of woven, high-tech tinfoil that crews use to wrap houses and other structures they’re working to protect.
Additionally, crews have also done a significant amount of fuel reduction in the area which included removing small shrubs and sweeping pine needles, Kauffman said.
The 75th anniversary of the blast was last year, but concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic delayed ceremonies honoring those who died.