South Oregon Fire Continues to Grow

September 22, 2008

The Middle Fork fire, which got no respect for a month, is getting plenty after expanding to more than 17,800 acres over two days end entering Crater Lake National Park. It was at just 7,700 acres on Wednesday.

The lightning-caused blaze started in mid-August, but was not a major concern until last week.

Until then it was centered along the Middle Fork Rogue River Trail on the western flanks of the Sky Lakes Wilderness, which straddles the Cascades on the Rogue River- Siskiyou National Forest on the west and Fremont-Winema National Forest on the east.

Park spokesmen say it still has not affected park structures and is in a remote southwest corner in the Union Peak area.

However Oregon 62 south of the park has been closed to hikers and park officials say visitors should expect heavy smoke and possible delays if fire crews and equipment are moving through the area.

The Forest Service has a base camp in Prospect and another fire camp at the Annie Creek Sno-Park near the south entrance.

Fire dispatchers Saturday listed the fire at 20 percent contained. Because of its remote location, control is not expected until October.

About 900 people are assigned to fight the fire, along with eight helicopters plus bulldozers and water tenders.

Fire spokeswoman Ada Tackas said cooler moist air is predicted for the next few days.

The northern third of the Sky Lakes Wilderness, from Oregon 140 near the Lake of the Woods to Crater Lake National Park, remains closed to hikers and equestrians.

Elsewhere, containment of the Royce Butte fire near Crescent Junction, which forced evacuations and closed part of Oregon 58, is expected Sunday.

the Gnarl fire on the east side of Mount Hood was 5 percent contained at 2570 acres, and parts of Oregon 138 remain closed by the Rattle fire that has covered 15,800 acres east of Glide.

The Doubleday fire near Butte Falls was at 1,250 acres Saturday and threatening 170 structures plus public water supplies and habitat for the protected Northern Spotted Owl.

Source: Herald and News.

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