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Raging Bootleg Fire Threatening Vital Northern California Power Grid Lines; Bay Area Crews Join Firefight

CHILOQUIN, Ore. (CBS SF/AP) -- With soaring temperatures already pushing California's power grid to the limit, utility officials were keeping a weary eye on the Bootleg Fire that is raging out of control in Southern Oregon and threatening Path 66 -- a vital electric line corridor linking the state with the Oregon power grid.

The fast-growing wildfire has prompted mandatory evacuations, threatening about 3,000 homes. Pushed by strong winds, the fire's burn zone in Klamath County has grown to more than 61 square miles. There was no containment.

"The fire will continue to move unchecked in all direction with unstable air conditions and extremely dry fuels," the National Forest Service said.

On Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom dispatched firefighting teams from Northern California to Oregon. Two strike teams consisting of Type 3 and Type 6 engines from Fremont, Oakland, Hayward, Alameda County, South San Francisco, San Bruno, the Central Fire District, San Mateo and Kentfield were sent north to battle the blaze.

CAISO and other grid operators were monitoring the fire as it was burning in the proximity of the California Oregon Intertie -- also known as Path 66. It's a corridor of three parallel 500kV power lines that connects the power grids of Oregon and California.

The three lines are owned by PG&E, PacifiCorp, the Western Area Power Administration and the Transmission Agency of Northern California.

PG&E officials on Friday activated the utility's Emergency Operations Center to monitor the situation and manage any eventualities.

The Fremont-Winema National Forest was partially closed Friday, and smoke was causing visibility issues for motorists in the town of Chiloquin and surrounding areas.

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