Wildfire near Mt. Jefferson forces campers to change eclipse plans

On Tuesday, August 8, 2017, the Whitewater Fire was measured at 5,515 acres. Inciweb photo

With an uncontained wildfire burning through the Willamette National Forest, the eclipse viewing plans for some campers are going up in smoke.

Fire crews are working to contain the Whitewater Fire, which is burning more than 8.5 square miles of forest land near Mt. Jefferson.

Forestry officials closed down access roads and trails to campsites near the fire as a safety precaution. The closures will leave about 5,000 would-be campers working to find alternate plans for viewing the eclipse, set to take place on August 21.

Oregon has seen an average wildfire season so far through 2017. With moisture levels across the state at historic lows, firefighters worry more wildfires could develop in the next week.

The Northwest Coordination Center says firefighters from Washington will be staged in place to quickly react to any wildfires that pop up.

“Have an alternative in mind be thinking abut if I can't go there where else do I want to go? So you can still have a good experience," said Jean Nelson-Dean of the NW Coordination Center.

Champoeg State Park is on the edge of the path of totality. Campers will be filling it up for the solar eclipse starting next weekend.

Prolonged dry conditions have already prompted forestry officials to issue restrictions on campfires.

The limitations will be in place throughout the next few weeks to cut down on the threat of human-caused fires, as a record number of tourists are expected to come through, hoping to catch a glimpse of the rare solar event.

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