Fort Klamath, Ore. - Saturday started and another beautiful quiet day for Crater Lake Bed and Breakfast owner, Janet McNeil. McNeil's Friday night guests had left a few hours earlier and she was going to relax and take a nap, when her dog began to act odd. McNeil's dog wanted to in outside and inside erratically. That is when McNeil seen flames coming from behind her vehicles in the garage.
The fire was spreading quickly.
McNeil tried to call 9-1-1 but couldn't as the lines to her home were already down. McNeil evacuated with only what she had been wearing. By the time McNeil was able to get out, the flames had reached her home & business.
Several neighbors called 9-1-1 to report the fire.
At the time of the call, the Chiloquin Fire and Rescue was hosting a mass casualty emergency training drill for many of the area’s first responders. The drill was cut short as the training responders had a real call to attend.
Soon firetrucks and water tenders were on site at the Crater Lake Bed and Breakfast.
I [Brian Gailey, Klamath Falls News Publisher] was in the area with my wife, heading to enjoy lunch at the recently re-opened TP Drive In, in Chiloquin, when the call come across the scanner. We then changed plans and headed to Fort Klamath - hoping for the best. When we reached Highway 62 and came out of the trees near Crooked Creek, we could see the billowing black smoke coming from the fire. At that moment, we knew this was something major.
By the time we arrived at the fire, crews from Chiloquin Fire and Rescue were on scene dispatching hoses and issuing water on the flames. However, electricity was still on, sparking on the ground keeping fire crews from entering.
Crews began applying more water to the flames of the garage, vehicles, motorhome and residence. Sounds of ammunition could be heard exploding from the flames from the back of a burning Jeep.
Moments later, Pacific Power arrived and cut power to the home, and fire crews entered.
In only moments of entering the structure, the fire trucks ran out of water. Just then a water tender form Rocky Point Fire arrived honking his horn and blazing his siren. The new tender was connected to the Chiloquin Fire apparatus and water continued to flow.
The Chiloquin tender and the Rocky Point tender made opposing trips to a hydrant in Chiloquin to refill with water.
A smaller fire truck drove to the rear of the home and added a hose and pump to a pond located on the property to continue dousing the home with water.
At one point in the firefight, a firefighter from Rocky Point Fire launched a drone into the sky for a bird’s eye view of the structure.
I briefly spoke with Janet McNeil as she watched her life go up in flames. McNeil stated that, “I am booked through September, I have no idea what I am going to do now.”
A neighbor asked, have you called the insurance company? McNeil responded, “No, I don’t even remember who they are, all the information is in the house, everything. I just do not know what to do.”
Even with limited cellular connection, I was able to broadcast a couple of live updates through Klamath Falls News on Facebook. Those updates can be seen below.
Later in the firefight, AirLink was dispatched to the location for an injured firefighter.
It is unknown at the time of this publication the status of the property, how the fire originated, or the status of the injured firefighter. Klamath Falls News has reached out to Chiloquin Fire for an update on the situation, but further information is not available at the time of publication.
We will continue to update this story as information becomes available.