BLUE RIVER, Ore. -- Although Cougar Hot Springs looks untouched by the Terwilliger Fire, there's still plenty of hazards in the surrounding area, which is why no visitors are currently allowed.
The Terwilliger Fire at Cougar Reservoir is 80 percent contained and has burned more than 11,000 acres.
Crews have closed off parts of Forest Service Road 19 and other trails like the popular Terwilliger Cougar Hot Springs. They said it's not safe for visitors.
"We're making sure that we're getting all the hazard trees off the road. We're trying to get the trail system ready for the winter system, so it doesn't erode after time,” said Victor Pelayo, the Incident Commander of the Terwilliger Fire. “After the rain comes in, the snow -- the big one is the hazard trees that once they do get the snow on them, they will be coming down."
Darren Cross, the McKenzie River District Ranger, spoke with KEZI 9 News. His job is to protect the Willamette National Forest, which includes the popular Cougar Hot Springs.
He said this summer's Terwilliger Fire was devastating. Cross said it damaged the trees and parts of trails heading toward the hot springs.
Cross believes the area could now be hazardous for the nearly 30,000 people that visit the springs each year, which is why they decided to close the popular destination as they make repairs.
“The public is very interested in getting back to this very popular area,” Cross said. “However, for public safety reasons, we need to keep it closed for this winter, and we just hope that people respect that closure."
Cross said they hope to open up parts of the Forest Service Road 19 and the hot springs by next summer.
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