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Lightning-sparked wildfires continue to burn

CRATER LAKE ' Firefighters are treading lightly as they deal with lightning-caused fires in Oregon's only national park.

Minimum impact techniques have been used on 10 small fires in Crater Lake National Park because of the park's unique character, said Debbie Norton, a member of the Northwest Area Interagency Team managing the fire-fighting effort.

We have a high priority to balance firefighting safety with resource protection, she said. The goal is to preserve the park's natural and cultural resources.

The 10 fires ignited by lightning storms on Friday and Saturday nights have burned 135 acres. They were 20 percent contained by fire lines by Monday afternoon, she said.

Known as the bee Fire Complex, all of the fires in the park are less than an acre with the exception of the bee No. — fire which covers 125 acres. That fire is in the bee Creek drainage on the southwest side of the park.

— We trying to make sure we have a line around the fire, primarily built with water, then we can start mopping up, she said.

Several of the smaller fires have been put out, Norton said.

Just to the west in the Rogue River National Forest, seven small fires were triggered by the Friday night storm, according to forest spokeswoman Virginia Gibbons.

Those fires were all less than an acre and were being mopped up, she said.

Smokejumping firefighters and firefighters rappelling from helicopters were deployed to the fires, she said.

In the national park, firefighters were relying heavily on water to establish many of the firelines, Norton said.

We're working really hard to use the minimum impact standards technique, Norton said. One example of how that works would be snags. We wouldn't automatically drop a snag.

But if we have a helicopter or a crew working in the area, that would be a case where they may take down a snag, she added.

In similar circumstances on public land where resources are threatened by a wildfire, firefighters routinely remove snags because of the possibility they may fall and their potential for providing fuel for a wind-blown ember.

A more aggressive approach to fighting wildfires is employed on federal land when structures or heavily forested areas are threatened.

The fires burning in the park pose no threat to structures or visitors. They are several miles from the nearest roads, campgrounds or nature centers, officials said.

About 180 people have been assigned to the fires, including five teams of 20 firefighters each, she said. One team of U.S. Bureau of Land Management firefighters hails from Jackson, Miss., she said.

We've been able to get the crews but we were a little limited with access to helicopters (at first), she said, noting that a heavy helicopter capable of carrying large buckets of water is now on the fires.

Another smaller helicopter has been providing transportation to the remote sites, she said.

Meanwhile, the weather is expected to heat up a bit in the coming days.

We're looking at a warming trend throughout the week, drying

The nearly 10,000-acre fire burning some two dozen miles west of Redding is contributing to the haze covering portions of Southwest Oregon, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry. A 5,000-acre fire is also burning in the Camas Prairie area near Lakeview.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at

Stretch of Pacific Crest Trail closed

The Pacific Crest Trail, located in Crater Lake National Park's western reaches, has been closed within the park because of forest fires.

The section closed includes the stretch from the Dutton Creek Trail to the Sphagnum Bog Trail. The Lightning Springs Trail is also closed.

Hikers can use the Rim Trail as a detour, said Debbie Norton of the Northwest Area Interagency Team. But horses being used in that area of the Pacific Crest Trail will have to be placed on trailers and driven around the closed area, she said.

For more information on trail access, call the fire information office at 541-594-3053.