If you have been wondering where all the smoke hanging over our region is coming from this map will help tell the story. More than 1,300 fires are burning in the western United States. Washington, Oregon, California, and Idaho all have been hard-hit by wildfires. Each green fire symbol on the map represents one of 71 new fires as of Tuesday. Gov. Jay Inslee last Saturday proclaimed a state of emergency in all 39 counties across Washington due to growing wildfire concerns. "Current weather forecasts predict continuing elevated temperatures throughout the state for the next seven days, providing hot and dry conditions, that, combined with the existing high-risk fire fuel conditions, support an active burning environment capable of producing significant multiple wildfires requiring the need for additional immediate response throughout the state," Inslee wrote in the proclamation. Firefighters are battling multiple fires east of the Cascades, including the Jolly Mountain Fire in Kittitas County. That fire has grown to more than 14,500 acres and is currently threatening local communities, homes, and businesses. Roads have been closed and Level 2 and 3 evacuation orders are currently in place for nearly 4,000 homes.
As of Tuesday morning because of the Eagle Creek Fire, all lanes of Interstate 84 remain closed from Troutdale (Exit 17) to 2 miles west of Hood River (MP 62). State Route 14 is closed to commercial traffic in both directions, but open to passenger vehicles. Bridge of the Gods is closed.
SR14 is extremely congested in both directions and motorists are asked to travel only if necessary.
The Union Pacific railroad has been closed to all rail traffic. Some power poles have burned on the BPA power line. It will remain energized to allow for pumps to run for structure protection.
The Eagle Creek Fire, was reported Saturday afternoon at approximately 4 p.m. in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The fire grew to 3,000 acres over-night that first night. Through Monday, the fire had grown significantly and had spotted across the Columbia River into Washington near Archer Mountain.
As of Tuesday, 294 personnel were battling the 10,000-acre blaze.
Estimated containment date has been set for Saturday, Sept. 30.
Due to the new fire near Archer Mountain Road, the following evacuation levels are in place: Level 3 (Go!) for Archer Mountain Road-Smith Crops-Deville Road. Mabee Mines Road is under a Level 2 (Get Set) evacuation notice.
A Red Cross shelter for evacuees on both sides of the river has been set up at the Skamania County Fair-grounds, in Stevenson.
For information regarding evacuations in Skamania County, contact the Skamania County Emergency Operations Center at 509-427-8076. This fire is being managed by Washington Department of Natural Resources.
The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office has increased evacuation levels to the following areas in the Gorge: Level 3 (Go!) for Larch Mountain and the communities of Latourell, Bridal Veil, Dodson, Warrendale, and East Corbett. Corbett and Springdale are under a Level 2 (Get Set) evacuation level. An evacuation shelter has been established at Mt. Hood Community College, located at 3691 NE 17th Dr., Gresham, Ore.
The Hood River County Sheriff upgraded all Level 1 (Get Ready) notices in Cascade Locks to Level 2 (Get Set). This includes all areas north of Wa Na Pa to the Columbia River and on the east end of town north of I-84 to the river, as well as Forest Lane and intersecting roads, running east to Government Cove. Level 3 (Go!) evacuation notice is in place for everything south of I-84 in Cascade Locks.
This is a very dynamic situation and evacuation levels can rapidly change. The Hood River County Sheriff (http://www.hoodriversheriff.com/news/breaking-news/) and Multnomah County Sheriff (https://flashalert.net/id/MCSO/107579?alert=1) are the most reliable sources for evacuation updated information.
Hot, dry and gusty east winds fanned the flames of the Eagle Creek Fire on Monday as the fire moved west. At 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, line personnel reported that the temperature was 91 degrees, the relative humidity was 24%, and the winds were sustained from the east at 13–16 miles per hour with gusts to 25 mph.
Four Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office task forces of engines were awakened during Monday night, at fire camp in Odell and sent to assist with the firefighting efforts. A total of 10 task forces worked through the night to provide structure protection. Additionally, more structural fire resources arrived overnight to be deployed to the line on Tuesday. There have been no known residential structural losses.
Public safety is the number one priority in the Eagle Creek Fire. The Eagle Creek Fire is human caused but specifics remain under investigation by the Oregon State Police.
Remember: Level Three means go now; Level Two means that you should be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice; and Level One means be on alert.