Progress Continues On Fires Near Crater Lake, West Rim Road To Re-Open Today

Aug 4, 2017

UPDATE: FRIDAY, AUG. 11 ... Ongoing cooler temperatures with periodic rainfall continues to give fire crews the upper hand in tackling the two fires burning near Crater Lake.

On the Spruce Lake fire, storms last night dropped less than 1/10 of rain on the fire. However, fire activity throughout the night remained quiet. With sparser fuels on the north and east sides of the fire, there has been minimal fire growth occurring. In this area, rocky pumice terrain and moist meadows are providing natural fire breaks in the landscape. These natural barriers are limiting the fire’s progression while the fire is being closely monitored and direct fireline is being constructed where possible. Additional crews are building fireline on the southeast portion of the fire using minimum impact tactics where fuels are more continuous and there are fewer natural barriers.

On the west side of the fire, firefighters are reinforcing the fire line and putting out any remaining hot spots to further secure the perimeter.

Additional resources are working to create defensible space around Crater Lake National Park facilities, campgrounds and infrastructure. This means applying Fire Wise principles by removing debris, dead branches up to 6 feet off the ground and thinning dense stands of saplings, while preserving an attractive landscape. For more information about these strategies, visit www.firewise.org.

Fire Resources:

16 Fire Crews                              5 Fire Engines                              3 Water Tenders

6 Helicopters                               1 Bulldozers                                

 Total Personnel: 383

WeatherTemperatures will remain in the 60s and 70s throughout the fire area. Isolated afternoon thunderstorms are possible this afternoon bringing gusty winds and cloud build up.

Crater Lake NP Closures: West Rim Road from Munson Valley to North Junction is closed this morning. Crater Lake NP will announce the opening of this section of road later today. Please check inciweb or the Crater Lake NP website for updates.  Pacific Crest Trail from Dutton Creek Trail to North Entrance Road; Boundary Springs Trail; Bald Crater Loop Trail; Lightning Springs Trail; Bear Creek Trail; Rim Trail from Discovery Point to North Junction. Further information can be found https://www.nps.gov/crla/planyourvisit/conditions.htm.

Rogue River-Siskiyou NF Closures: FSR 6205 from Crater Lake NP boundary west to Forest Boundary. Information can be found at https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/rogue-siskiyou/

On the Blanket Creek fire, between Crater Lake and the town of Prospect, firefighters continue to gain ground. Cooler temperatures and recent precipitation have helped firefighters with less intense fire behavior. The fire is currently 39% contained. The hand line around the fire in the Lick Creek drainage on the northwestern edge earlier this week continues to hold.

At this time, there are no structures or private resources considered threatened. Oregon Department of Forestry has moved resources to other incidents while firefighters continue to reinforce a contingency fireline along Forest Road 6215, tying into the Ginko Road to the north of the fire. Many portions of the west side of the fire are in mop up stage, though the Lick Creek drainage area still poses a threat.

The fire continues to burn slowly on its eastern end, within Crater Lake National Park.  Hotshot crews are working to check its spread in the Union Peak area and identify suppression opportunities as it burns within the 2008 Middle Fork Fire burn scar.

The current plan is to use direct and indirect suppression techniques to contain the fire west and south of Union Peak. Standing snags, poor access and rugged terrain provide significant challenges for firefighters to safely engage.  

With lower temperatures and precipitation from recent thunderstorms, fire behavior has moderated. Some areas of the Blanket Creek Fire received over .75 of an inch of rain which has helped firefighting operations.  Additional thunderstorm activity in the vicinity of the fire is forecast today. This may produce gusty and erratic winds that can increase fire behavior. A drying trend with associated westerly winds is forecast into the weekend.

Fire Resources:

15 Fire Crews                              18 Fire Engines                          23 Water Tenders

7 Helicopters                               1 Bulldozers                                 

Total Personnel: 733

Weather: Temperatures will remain in the 60s and 70s throughout the fire area. Isolated afternoon thunderstorms are possible this afternoon bringing gusty winds and cloud build up.

Crater Lake NP Closures: PCT from Hwy 62 to South Park Boundary, Union   Peak Trail, Stuart Falls Trail, Pumice Flat Trail. Additional closures in the park from the Spruce Lake Fire. Further information can be found https://www.nps.gov/crla/planyourvisit/conditions.htm.

Rogue River-Siskiyou NF Closures: FSR 6205 from Crater Lake NP boundary west to Forest Boundary. Information can be found at https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/rogue-siskiyou/

 

UPDATE: THURSDAY, AUG. 10 ... Crews working both the Spruce Lake fire and the Blanket Creek fire near Crater Lake are making good progress. The Spruce Lake fire is holding at 4,734 acre and is 31 percent contained. The Blanket Creek fire, between the lake and the town of Prospect, is at 4,800 acres and is 39 percent contained.

On the Spruce Lake fire, crews are building fire containment lines, moving east toward the Pacific Crest Trail on the north and south boundaries of the fire today. 

On the northeastern flank, the fire has been creeping and smoldering in an area dominated by pumice and sparse vegetation. This light fire behavior can have benefits for that ecosystem of Crater Lake National Park.

Additional resources are working to create defensible space around Crater Lake National Park facilities, campgrounds and infrastructure. This means applying Fire Wise principles by removing debris, dead branches up to 6 feet off the ground and thinning dense stands of saplings, while preserving an attractive landscape. For more information about these strategies, visit www.firewise.org

West Rim Road and several trails are closed until further notice for the safety of visitors and firefighters.  Affected trails are: a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail from the south park boundary to Highway 62, and from the intersection of the Dutton Creek Trail north to the North Entrance Road; Union Peak Trail; Stuart Falls Trail; Pumice Flat Trail; Boundary Springs Trail; Bald Crater Loop Trail; Bert Creek Trail; Discovery Point Trail; Lightning Springs Trail; and the Rim Trail, from Discovery Point to North Junction.

An area west of the fire on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest is also closed to reduce the exposure to risk for fire personnel and the public.  See: https://tinyurl.com/SpruceLakeFire.

On the Blanket Creek fire, three Hotshot crews working on the spot fire in the Lick Creek drainage on the northwestern edge have completed a hand line around it to tie it back into the main body of the fire.  This was a critical piece of work to keep the fire spread north of Forest Road 6205-100 at 171 acres. Work will continue to strengthen that line in the coming days.

Hotshot crews are also working on the eastern end of the fire within Crater Lake National Park to check its spread in the Union Peak area and assess suppression opportunities as it burns within the 2008 Middle Fork Fire burn scar.  Standing snags, poor access and rugged terrain provide significant challenges for firefighters to safely engage.

Fire behavior has moderated greatly since last week.  This week the west end of the fire has received precipitation from afternoon thunderstorms.   The resulting moisture and cooler temperatures have knocked some steam out of the fire, but it has not been enough to extinguish it. 

Thunderstorms are forecast again for today.   A Red Flag Warning has again been issued for abundant lightning with dry fuels this afternoon. Although some areas of Klamath and Jackson counties received significant rain Wednesday, less than one-tenth of an inch fell in the fire zone. This will enhance the chance for the fire to spread where containment lines have not been established.  

UPDATE: WEDNESDAY, AUG. 9 ...  A combination of higher overnight humidity recovery and moisture from scattered thunderstorms has moderated the fire behavior on the Spruce Lake Fire, burning in Crater Lake National Park. The fire remains at 4,681 acres and is 23% contained.

Nearby,  firefighters established a containment line around a large spot fire in the Lick Creek drainage, north of the main body of the Blanket Creek fire, southwest of Crater Lake near Prospect, Oregon.

The Blanket Creek fire experienced minimal growth and continues to be estimated at 4,739 acres and is now 39% contained.  Crews will continue to secure and mop up the fire line on the north, south and west flanks of the fire.  Minimum Impact Suppression Tactics (MIST) are being used on the eastern flank of the fire within Crater Lake National Park.

Thunderstorms have produced up to half an inch of precipitation on parts of both fires over the past two days.  The rain moderated fire behavior allowing fire fighters an opportunity to further secure the perimeters.  Thunderstorms are again in the forecast for Wednesday and a Red Flag Warning has been posted for the area for abundant lightning combined with dry fuels.  A new fire start was detected yesterday north of the main body of the Blanket Creek fire and initial attack resources were dispatched to take action.  Not all areas of the fire vicinity received rainfall, so many places have not had even temporary restoration of moisture.

West Rim Drive in Crater Lake park remains closed. A Level 1 Evacuation Notification to raise awareness of fires in the vicinity continues for the Rim Village and park headquarters areas.  

Air quality is expected to be “Moderate” in Crater Lake National Park today due to smoke.  Unusually sensitive people should consider reducing heavy outdoor exertion.  To view current air quality data from a smoke monitor located at park headquarters go to: www.oregonsmoke.blogspot.com.  To see the current view from four locations at Crater Lake National Park, go to: www.craterlakelodges.com/webcam/

UPDATE: TUESDAY, AUG. 8 ... Scattered storm cells Monday afternoon brought much-needed moisture to the Spruce Lake and Blanket Creek fires, including to some critical remote areas. 

But the thunderstorms also triggered more than a dozen new fires in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. One, near Flounce Rock at Lost Creek Lake, quickly grew to 250 acres.

Monday, the footprint of the Spruce Lake fire was holding at 4,681 acres, with 19 percent containment.  Some of the fire zone received a quarter inch of rain at some point during the afternoon. In particular, precipitation reinforced containment along West Rim Road and in rugged country along the southern flank. Crews are constructing firelines at the west end and progressing east along the north and south flanks.

The Blanket Creek fire is 4,739 acres and 36% contained.  Crews are making progress working their way down the ridge, securing the fire that’s located in Lick Creek.  Spot fires continue to be detected, quieted with bucket drops of water, and lined.  The area requires focused attention, and the safe slow work of installing handline and hoselays through varying fuels and steep complex terrain takes time.

In Crater Lake National Park, a Level 1 Evacuation Notification is in place for Rim Village and the park headquarters area. This is the first step in the “Be Ready, Be Set, Go!” system. A Level 1 notification means park visitors and residents should be aware they could be asked to leave the area and “Be Ready” to do so. For more information about evacuation levels and procedures, go tohttp://tinyurl.com/BeReady-BeSet-Go

Air quality is expected to be “Moderate” in Crater Lake National Park today due to smoke. To view current air quality data from a smoke monitor located at park headquarters go to: oregonsmoke.blogspot.com. To see the current views from four locations at Crater Lake National Park, go to: www.craterlakelodges.com/webcam/

With clear skies, direct sun will heat and dry the fire areas starting early today.  A Red Flag Warning cautions of “Abundant Lightning and Dry Fuels” from noon to 10:00 pm.  The storms are forecast to build east of the Blanket Creek Fire area and move slowly west. 

A community meeting will take place at 6:00 pm tonight at the Multi-Purpose Room of the Charter School in Prospect, Oregon.  The school is located at 160 Mill Creek Drive.  This meeting provides an opportunity for an in-person update about the fire status and future strategies

UPDATE: MONDAY, AUG. 7 ...  West Rim Drive and several trails remain closed at Crater Lake National Park as firefighters continue to work the Spruce Lake fire just west of the lake, as well as the Blanket Creek fire to the southwest between Crater Lake and the town of Prospect.

The Spruce Lake fire continues to grow in a southeasterly direction toward West Rim Road. The Rim Village and park headquarters area are under a Level 1 evacuation alert. This is the first step in the "Ready, Set, Go" system, meaning park visitors and residents should be aware they should be "Ready" to leave the area if conditions worsen. 

As of Monday morning, the Spruce Lake fire was estimated at 4,681 acres and was 13 percent contained. The Blanket Creek fire was estimated at 4,739 areas and was 31 percent contained. 

By mid-afternoon, air quality at the park was in the "moderate" range. But monitors in Prospect, southwest of the park, registered in the "Unhealthy" range.

Thunderstorms are forecast in the area for the next few days, which could force crews to stop ground firefighting efforts. Lightning strikes could also ignite new fires.

ORIGINAL POST: FRIDAY, AUG. 4 ... The Spruce Lake Fire burning in Crater Lake National Park forced the shutdown of several roads and trails on Friday.   

Winds blew the fire closer to the rim of Crater Lake itself, forcing the National Park Service to close the popular West Rim Drive north of Munson Valley Road.

Smoke has greatly reduced visibility at the lake while restricting travel.  The Park Service provided this list of closed roads and trails:

  • West Rim Drive from Rim Village to North Junction
  • Pacific Crest Trail, from the intersection of Dutton Creek Trail north to the North Entrance Road
  • Boundary Springs Trail
  • All of Bald Crater Loop Trail
  • Bert Creek Trail
  • Discovery Point Trail
  • Lightning Springs Trail
  • Rim Trail from Discovery Point to North Junction

The Park Service stresses that visitors are not at risk, and all other roads and both entrances remain open.

Credit webcam

Closed roads and trails will be opened again as soon as conditions allow.  The fire was first discovered after lightning strikes on July 29th.  Size as of Friday afternoon was approximately 3,600 acres.