Middle Fork blaze heads toward Crater Lake – September 19, 2008

Middle Fork blaze heads toward Crater Lake

Mail Tribune

Medford, Oregon
September 19, 2008

BY ANITA BURKE

A fire burning east of Prospect nearly doubled in size in a day and is burning into Crater Lake National Park, the Forest Service said Thursday.

The Middle Fork fire grew to 13,895 acres, up from 7,770 acres Wednesday, as flames raged through the treetops along the fire’s northern edge.

It has burned across the Cascade Divide and is sweeping into the Fremont-Winema National Forest and north into Crater Lake National Park.

The fire, started by lightning Aug. 16 in the Sky Lakes Wilderness, has entered the southern edge of the park’s land, but hasn’t affected park visitors, fire spokeswoman Ada Takacs said.

Fire crews plan to set up a second base camp at the park’s south entrance somewhere in the Annie Springs area, she said. No park closures have been announced, but visitors should expect heavy smoke and possible delays as crews and equipment move through the area.

Firefighters continue to evaluate terrain on the north and east side of the fire to look for places to build lines and stop the flames. They also will battle small spot fires that are erupting around the fire’s perimeter.

As of Wednesday, about 700 people were working on the fire, along with seven helicopters, seven fire engines, 14 water tanker trucks and two bulldozers. The Forest Service is coordinating efforts with the National Park Service, Takacs said.

Cooler, moister air is expected over the fire area today, which should help firefighters quash the flames. The fire is only 15 percent contained and full containment isn’t expected before October.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail aburke@mailtribune.com.

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