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West Rim Road reopens as Bybee Creek firefighting continues

CRATER LAKE — West Rim Road, which has been closed for a week so firefighters could battle the Bybee Creek fire, reopened at 8 a.m. today.

The Pacific Crest Trail and Rim Trail reopened Sunday, as crews continued to make significant progress on the 1,072-acre blaze that roared to life July 28 in Crater Lake National Park. That's slightly down from an earlier estimate of 1,125 acres. About 330 personnel are still on the fire today.

An update from the interagency team on the front line says the fire is now 73 percent contained. The cause is still not known. A temporary flight restriction over the fire also has been lifted, though some trail closures remain in place. The Lightning Springs Trail, located west of Crater Lake and directly north of the fire, is still closed, as is the backcountry camp.

Despite West Rim Drive being open again, fire officials are urging motorists and hikers in the area to remain cautious. About 150 fire personnel will continue mop-up operations and fireline patrols Tuesday.

"Throughout the coming days, visitors may still see smoke as small unburned islands within the fire perimeter continue to burn, and also as trees fall," an update reads. "Smoke may occasionally be visible from the small spot fire burning in the caldera, which is surrounded by a natural barrier of pumice."

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.

Photo by Geoff Hibbs, Eastern Oregon Task Force, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.