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Fire crews make headway on Gorge fires

UPDATED: Fri., Sept. 8, 2017, noon

Fire crews work to protect Multnomah Falls and the Multnomah Falls Lodge, which was built in 1925, from the Eagle Creek Fire, Wednesday, Sept 6, 2017, near Troutdale, Ore. (Genna Martin / Associated Press)
Fire crews work to protect Multnomah Falls and the Multnomah Falls Lodge, which was built in 1925, from the Eagle Creek Fire, Wednesday, Sept 6, 2017, near Troutdale, Ore. (Genna Martin / Associated Press)

Fire crews worked alongside two bulldozers to construct fire lines along the Archer Mountain fire in Skamania County on Thursday, which officials estimate was about 6 percent contained.

A helicopter dropped water on the fire as about 82 fire personnel battled the blaze, according to the state Department of Natural Resources. Officials believe the fire, which has grown to 120 acres, is a spot fire of the Eagle Creek Fire that started from an ember that jumped the Columbia River Tuesday morning.

The Skamania County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday morning downgrades to the evacuation level notices.

Franz Road, Dim Rill Dale Drive and Archer Mountain Road east of Deville Drive, which was on a Level 3 (go now) evacuation notice Wednesday, was reduced to a Level 2 (be ready to go) evacuation notice. Archer Mountain Road west of Deville Drive remains on Level 3 (go now) evacuation notice.

Fire officials say the cooler weather and less wind has helped efforts on both sides of the river, where many people have been evacuated from their homes.

In Oregon, fire crews of about 928 fire personnel are working to control the Eagle Creek and Indian Creek fires on the south side of the Columbia River Gorge. Officials estimate that fire had burned 33,382 acres as of Thursday morning and was 5 percent contained.

Crews have established fire lines near Cascade Locks and Bridal Veil and continue to protect homes and structures in the areas closest to the fire. So far, officials report that three houses have been damaged and a small spot fire ignited near a cell tower early Thursday morning.

A Vancouver teenager is under investigation in the starting of the Eagle Creek fire.

Temperatures have cooled and Lt. Damon Simmons of the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s office says firefighters should make good progress if the weather cooperates.

Interstate 84 between Troutdale and Hood River remains closed and all evacuation levels in Multnomah and Hood River counties have remained unchanged. The Oregon Department of Transportation estimates that about 2,000 trees posing a safety hazard along the freeway must be felled before the road can reopen. The U.S. Coast Guard has reopened the Columbia River to nighttime passage of commercial boats, and Union Pacific trains have begun to move through the region.

Meanwhile, Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese said deputies arrested a 23-year-old man on charges of theft by deception and a parole violation. Reese said Cody Cunningham tried to obtain clothing from a firefighting crew. Reese says he does not know Cunningham’s intentions, but “certainly they were not good.”


 

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