Fire scorches acre of Wizard Island
July 23, 1997
By DOUG IRVING
Firefighters on Tuesday mopped up a fire that burned about an acre of Wizard Island in Crater Lake National Park.
The fire started late Monday morning and smoldered through Tuesday afternoon. It blackened manzanita brush, grass and four trees in steep terrain on the 600-acre island.
Fire investigators believe the fire could have been caused by a cigarette, park management assistant John Miele said. The fire started next to a trail and was man-caused, he explained.
Smoking is prohibited on Wizard Island.
“A person shouldn’t have been smoking on the island in the first place,” Miele said. “It’s too hot and dry.”
Boat tours of the lake continued on schedule during the fire, but the island was off-limits to tourists Monday and Tuesday.
The boat tours had resumed Saturday, after being suspended for almost a week because of an eight-gallon gasoline spill July 13 at Cleetwood Cove.
Crater Lake Lodge guests saw a plume of smoke rising from the island Monday, said Sabrina Farrens at the lodge’s front desk. But she said no evidence of fire was visible by Tuesday afternoon.
“Yesterday, when it was happening, (guests) were pretty concerned,” she said. “Today it’s died down. Not a lot of people are aware of it today.”
Five firefighters boated to the island around 11:30 Monday morning, said incident commander Chris Chiverton. They dug containment lines around the fire with hand tools and used bladder bags – backpacks filled with water – to keep the fire under control.
The firefighters camped overnight on the island and were joined Tuesday morning by six more firefighters. They spent Tuesday walking the area, shoveling dirt onto the cinders and breaking up burning logs.
“It’s just grubbing, grubbing, grubbing,” Buckingham said. “It’s hot and dirty and unexciting. It’s not even as much fun as gardening.”
The only structures on the island are a group of boat houses on the opposite side, Miele said. The fire never threatened them.
The island fire was the second in the park in as many days. A small blaze Sunday burned .17 acres and was linked to an illegal campfire.
“Both of these fires were man-caused,” Miele said. “People that use parks and campgrounds need to obey the rules.”