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Isolated thunderstorms expected; red flag warning in effect

Thunder and lightning will punctuate growing clouds of smoke and fire well into this week.

A red flag warning goes into effect from noon to 10 p.m. Monday from Northern California into the Siskiyous and Cascades.

Fires in and around Crater Lake National Park, ignited by a thunderstorm two weeks ago, along with the Chetco Bar Fire first detected July 12 in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, have pumped smoke into Southern Oregon valleys.

"There are increasing chances of thunderstorms (Monday) afternoon," said Jay Stockton, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "They'll still be isolated, so it will be a hit and miss sort of thing. But it's going to be closer to our area."

On the valley floor, there is a 20 percent chance of activity, rising to 30 percent a in the hills above Ashland.

"It's one of those things where you could get a quarter of an inch in one location, and a few hundred feet away just get a trace," Stockton said. "It's the nature of thunderstorms."

The danger, of course, is that down strikes can hit outside precipitation columns, finding fuel.

No infrared reconnaissance photos have been taken of the Blanket Creek or Spruce Lake fires since Saturday. The Blanket Creek fire that began about six miles northeast of Prospect July 25 is now 27 percent contained, while the reported size remains 3,856 acres. The Spruce Lake fire, first spotted on the western perimeter of the park on Jul 29, is now 9 percent contained.

On Sunday lingering thunderstorms hung over the north entrance of the park. Scott Carpenter, a NWS meteorologist assigned to the two fires, reported a handful of cloud to ground strikes in the area. Closer to Diamond Lake, a quarter inch of rain fell.

Carpenter reported .05 inches of precipitation, as well as spots of pea-sized hail in the Blanket Creek fire.

Firefighters who have dealt with a hot, dry environment now face the danger of gusty, erratic winds, Blanket Creek fire public information officer Koshare Eagle said.

The good news is that humidity that was measured at 13 percent on the Crater Lake Rim last week rose to between 21 and 26 percent at 5,500 feet on Sunday and 26 to 30 percent at 7,000 feet.

Eagle said there were no additional closures as of Sunday evening.

The National Park Service to close West Rim Drive from the North Junction to Rim Village.  The Pacific Crest Trail is closed from the south park boundary to Highway 62 and from the intersection of Dutton Creek Trail north to the North Entrance Road.

Most of the rest of the trails on the west side of Crater Lake are also closed, including Union Peak, Stuart Falls, Pumice Flat, Boundary Springs, Bald Crater Loop, Bert Creek, Discovery Point, Lightning Springs, and the Rim Trail from Discovery Point to North Junction.Rim Village and trolley and boat tours remain open and running.

The Chetco Bar fire has no containment.

Isolated thunderstorms expected; red flag warning in effect