The Eagle Creek fire in the Columbia River Gorge grew on Thursday to 37,567 acres, primarily due to growth on the northeast edge of the fire in Hood River County. The fire which began on Sept. 2 is now 17 percent contained, Damon Simmons with the Oregon Fire Marshal’s office said at a Thursday afternoon news briefing in Troutdale.
Expansion of the fire east of Herman Creek due to strong winds on Tuesday night disappointed fire officials, but they were optimistic that strong defenses are in place to protect communities near the fire. More than 900 firefighters are battling one of the nation’s highest priority wildfires. Four homes have been lost but no one has died or been seriously injured due to the fire.
Evacuation levels in Multnomah County have not changed since Sept. 13, when residents of some areas were allowed to return home and an alert was ended for areas west of the Sandy River. Residents returning to homes in the Level 2 zone should not bring their livestock and large animals, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Chad Gaidos said at the briefing. Residents in Level 2 areas need to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice, which is difficult if horses and large animals need to be moved quickly.
The westbound lanes of Interstate 84 will hopefully be able to open very soon, ODOT spokesperson Don Hamilton said at the briefing. “The westbound lanes are ready to open, but we are concerned that areas of the fire near Herman Creek are too close to the freeway for it to be safe to open,” Hamilton said. The decision to reopen the westbound lanes will be made in consultation with fire commanders.
The Sept. 14 news briefing was the last one scheduled to be held at the Troutdale Emergency Operations Center, which plans to close this week. For future updates on the Eagle Creek fire, visit the incident web page and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office news page.