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Wildfire burns northeast of Prospect

A wildfire near Prospect is drawing crews to Joseph Stewart State Park, but park manager Nathan Seable says the park is still open and smoke-free. 

Fields at the park's day-use area will be cleared for as many as 800 wildland firefighters to set up camp for the next two weeks while crews battle the Blanket Creek fire northeast of Prospect, which has grown to more than 50 acres.

"They're not using any camping areas," Seable said. "These are open, grassy fields that they're in."

The fire is north of Bessie Rock in the Red Blanket drainage near the Cold Springs Trailhead, according to the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. Thanks to erratic winds and access issues for firefighters, the fire grew from four acres Tuesday to more than 50 acres Wednesday night, despite the efforts of one hotshot crew, four rappellers and two Grayback Forestry crews, according to the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

Friday's forecast calls for warm and dry conditions, but minimal winds, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Michelle Cohen. Highs in the area are forecast for the upper 80s, low in the upper 50s, but no red-flag warnings have been issued.

"We'll probably get breezy winds in the afternoon, but they won't be critical levels," Cohen said.

Seable didn't have a mileage estimate from the fire to the park, but he described the fire as "far away" and said "there's no smoke in the campground."

"The campground looks normal, we just have a lot more people," Seable said.

The park, campground, Lost Creek Marina and the day-use beach area will stay open for the foreseeable future, according to Seable, but park users should expect increased traffic as equipment and supplies come into the area to accommodate some 800 firefighters.

"They just needed a big-enough place," Seable said. "Joseph Stewart was their best bet."

Seable said officials anticipate the interagency team to be on site for approximately two weeks, though expanding the camp is a possibility, depending on fire conditions. 

— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.