Diamond Lake Fire Forces Another (Temporary) Road Closure
UPDATE THURSDAY, AUGUST 20, 5 PM: Crews working on the National Creek Complex of fires near Diamond Lake began burnout operations this afternoon, to consume fuel between the fires and containment lines.
The operations are expected to create more smoke, so the Oregon Department of Transportation may close Oregon Highway 138 intermittently, with delays of 20 minutes or more for travelers.
The intermittent shutdown just adds to the list. Oregon 230 and the north entrance road to Crater Lake have both been closed since the weekend, forcing travelers from the south heading to Diamond Lake or Bend to detour through Roseburg or Klamath Falls.
Despite the additional smoke, air quality in the region has been steadily improving.
By the numbers, as of this afternoon: two fires, 7,021 acres (roughly 11 square miles), 10% contained.
UPDATE WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 19, 5 PM: The firefighting efforts on the National Creek Complex of fires illustrate the difficulties involved in fighting wildfire WHILE attempting to protect structures and people.
The recreational facilities around Diamond Lake--still under a level 1 (ready) evacuation order--have been protected so far. But fire crews were forced to close a pair of roads, and may need to close a third for a short time.
Oregon Highway 230 and the north entrance road to Crater Lake remain closed, as they have been since the weekend. And fire managers say they may need to close nearby Oregon 138 for brief periods, as smoke collects from burnout operations.
By the numbers, as of this morning: two fires, 6,228 acres (roughly 10 square miles), 10% contained.
UPDATE TUESDAY, AUGUST 18, 5 PM: Little changed at the National Creek Complex of fires on Tuesday, as Oregon Highway 230 and the north entrance to Crater Lake National Park remained closed to the public.
Oregon 230 has become a de facto fire containment line, in an effort to keep the Crescent Fire away from Diamond Lake and its recreation areas. Trails and campgrounds south and west of the lake are closed to the public.
The weather is not expected to cooperate with firefighters, at least through Wednesday. Temperatures rose above 90 degrees at Diamond Lake on Tuesday afternoon, while humidity remained at 15%. Fire managers reported concerns about the potential for rapid fire growth.
Neither the Oregon Department of Transportation nor the National Park Service have given indications on when the closed roads might reopen.
MONDAY, AUGUST 17, 3 PM: An Oregon state highway and the north entrance to Crater Lake National Park remained closed Monday, to allow crews to fight the fires of the National Creek Complex.
Oregon Highway 230 is closed from one end to the other, from Highway 62 just north of Union Creek to the junction with Oregon 138 near Diamond Lake. ODOT, the Oregon Department of Transportation, gave no estimate on when the highway might reopen. Fire crews are using the road as a staging area and a launch point for putting containment lines around the nearby fires.
The National Creek Complex is really two fires, the Crescent Fire burning within the Crater Lake park boundary, and the National Fire burning in national forest land nearby. Lightning started the fires on August 1st.
By Monday morning (Aug. 17), the fires totaled 5,136 acres (8 square miles) with 10% containment.
Fire managers report preparing for hot, dry weather as the week wears on. A thermal trough could push the fire west, so crews moved to strengthen lines on that side of the fire.
The National Park Service calls the closing of the north entrance to Crater Lake a temporary shutdown related to firefighting, but gives no estimate for reopening. With the entrance closed, visitors from the north are forced to take a long detour to the south entrance along Oregon Highway 62.
And the shutdown of Oregon 230 forces Diamond Lake visitors from the Rogue Valley and points south to either make a long detour through Chiloquin, or to head up Interstate Five to Roseburg, then head east.
The firefighting work that prompted the road closures is meant to keep the fires away from Diamond Lake resort, which remains under a level 1 (ready) evacuation notice.