'It’s just plain not safe': New spot fires ignite in the Columbia River Gorge
PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Fire and Rescue is calling the 32,000-acre Eagle Creek Fire “dramatic.” The blaze is showering the Columbia River Gorge with embers, sparking new fires nearby and across the river in Washington.
“It’s going to take a lot of help from the weather. It’s going to take a lot of work from firefighters. It’s going to take time,” said Damon Simmons from Portland Fire and Rescue.
Simmons joined Dan Douthit from the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management, Chad Gaidos from Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, and Dave Thompson from ODOT at a press briefing Tuesday morning.
East winds fanned the fire overnight, causing new evacuations and sparking new fires.
A wildfire started on the Washington side of the Columbia River early Tuesday morning. The fire is estimated to be about 10 to 20 acres and is burning on a ridge on Archer Mountain, just across the river from the Eagle Creek Fire.
There is also a 100-acre new spot fire burning near Rooster Rock State Park.
Eagle Creek Fire is also burning above Multnomah Falls. Fire crews are working to protect the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge.
Simmons said the fire stretches from Larch Mountain to Crown Point, near the base of the Gorge.
The fire caused emergency personnel to close a major part of Interstate 84 from Troutdale to Hood River.
“The fire is burning right along the interstate and it’s just plain not safe. It’s very dangerous,” said Dave Thompson from ODOT.
ODOT issued a new detour route for trucks Tuesday morning. They said trucks should use US-197 at The Dalles and take it south to OR-216 and then to US-26 west. That will put them back on I-84. That route also works for truck drivers heading east.
Thompson said the Bridge of the Gods is only open to evacuees and the same goes for the Historic Columbia River Highway.
Thompson said the Mt. Hood Highway is a good alternative route.
Currently, the following locations were issued a Level 3 (Go!) evacuation notice:
- Larch Mountain
- Larch Mountain Road (all 14 miles)
- Bridal Veil
- East Corbett (Larch Mtn Rd and East)
- Haines Road
- Alex Barr Road
- Thompson Mill Road
- Brower Road
- Toll Road
- Palmer Mill Road
- Archer Mountain Road in Skamania County
- Franz Road
- Smith-Cripe Road
- Kellet Road
- Victoria Lane
Additionally, the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office has issued Level 3 evacuations south of Interstate 84 for the Columbia River Gorge town of Cascade Locks.
Other locations received a Level 2 (Get Ready) evacuation notice:
Gaidos says evacuees have been cooperating with the evacuation notices.
There is a Red Cross shelter for evacuees at Skamania County Fairgrounds. Another shelter is available at Mt. Hood Community College. Officials said pets are welcome at the college.
TriMet is providing buses to help transport evacuees from the area.
Emergency personnel are going door to door to notify residents who need to evacuate.
Simmons says there are currently 294 firefighters working to contain the Eagle Creek Fire.