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Firefighters work to contain blaze at Crater Lake

Smoke from the Bybee Fire over Crater Lake. (Photo by Ashley Waymouth via South Central Fire Management Partnership)

CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK - The park remains open to the public as firefighters work to contain a wildfire burning in proposed wilderness in the Rogue River watershed.

"While visitors should not be impacted directly by firefighting activities, they may see smoke and increased air traffic," the South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership said on Facebook. "Fire operations are visible from the Rim Road and there is increased fire traffic in the park."

The cause of the Bybee Creek Fire remains under investigation. Visitors are urged to use caution with fire, and backcountry visitors are under stepped up fire restrictions.

Fire managers report the fire is "spotting" - sending embers aloft and igniting new fires - about a 1/4 to 1/2 mile ahead of the main fire.

"We will put fire to the ground to consume fuels in the path of the fire," incident commander Leland Hunter said in the morning briefing Monday. "Firefighters are also clearing vegetation from existing trails to increase the barrier between the burned and unburned fuels."

Firefighters received help from above in the form of heavy air tankers dropping retardant on the fire.

Hunter's briefing noted that these drops took into account the wilderness character of the area, as well as the Rogue River drainage.

"To keep the fire from moving over the ridgeline, firefighting efforts included fugitive retardant drops," the briefing explained. "This type of retardant is designed to fade quickly and to be used in wilderness areas."

The goal: to keep the fire east of the Pacific Crest Trail, south of the Lightning Springs Trail and west of the Crater Lake Rim Drive.

The fire had burned 425 acres and was 10 percent contained as of Monday morning.

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