Less wind, cooler temps and hard human effort slow eastward spread of fire

From official media releases

For residents of the Hood River Valley, there was somewhat optimistic news tonight from fire officials overseeing the Eagle Creek fire.

The official report at the InciWeb site notes that eastward progress of the fire toward Hood River has slowed or stopped to the west of Herman Creek. The creek, and ridges above it, have provided natural barriers to growth of the fire. Crews, however, have been working above Kingsley Reservoir and north toward I-84 to clear out and widen old logging roads that might serve as a barrier to the spread of flames, should they ever push that far east.

For those of us wondering about I-84 and how soon it might restore a lifeline of visitors and other business traffic to the Gorge, the Oregon Department of Transportation says “I-84 will open as quickly as possible, when it is safe to travel. Westbound lanes will open first.

“I-84 remains an active evacuation zone; the Eagle Creek Fire is still burning. ODOT is working closely with fire officials to determine when westbound lanes of I-84 can reopen.

“Eastbound I-84 will remain closed at least another week—the minimum time required to complete rock removal.

“The Historic Columbia River Highway remains closed with no schedule to reopen. Rocks and trees continue to fall; ODOT is working to keep the highway available for firefighters, but the highway is not safe for travel.

“ODOT has removed about 2,000 trees that were in danger of falling onto I-84 with about 1,500 remaining to be removed. Tree removal efforts should be finished by early in the coming week.

“The biggest impediment to re-opening the highway is the threat of falling rocks, most of them around the Toothrock Tunnel. The work is slow in steep, difficult terrain extending high up onto the hillside.

“ODOT inspected 70 bridges and culverts along I-84 and found minimal damage.

“An inspection of the 1936 Toothrock Tunnel on I-84 showed minimal rock damage to portals. The liner inside the Oneonta Tunnel on the HCRH completely burned and engineers found unstable rock slopes at each end.

“In the weeks ahead, ODOT will be assessing the danger of winter slides in areas where the underbrush has burned away.”

As of today, evacuation status remains the same as it has been for several days. Firefighting crews are working with residents inside the Level 1 evacuation zone to the west of Country Club Road to help them push back vegetation at least 30 feet to provide a defensible barrier around their homes.

Another source for timely updates on fire-control efforts is the fire Facebook page.

While the fire is being fought, officials have closed public access to lands south of I-84. Here’s the news release.


Events, Government, People, Uncategorized

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