Officials from the U.S. Forest Service, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon Department of Transportation, the Oregon State Fire Marshal Office and Multnomah County gave members of the media a tour of areas impacted by the Eagle Creek Fire Thursday afternoon.
Fire crews are making progress on the more than 300,000 acres, which started Saturday, September 2. The blaze triggered the evacuation of approximately 400 residences east of the 38700 block of the Columbia River Highway in Corbett to Warrendale in eastern Multnomah County. 1,865 residents have been affected by the fire, as evacuees or potential evacuees.
The impacts of the fire are being felt throughout the region from highway closures to air quality to the early releases of fish at nearby hatcheries.
Firefighters used supplies including water and power from Columbia River hatcheries to battle the flames. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, which operates the hatcheries, released fish early to reduce demands on water supply and equipment.
At a stop by the Bonneville Fish Hatchery Thursday, Manager Greg Davis told members of the media the hatchery lost 3200 gallons of water and released an estimated 600,000 fish.
Water flow to the Bonneville Hatchery was restricted by fire debris in the hatchery intakes.
“We’re stabilized,” said Davis, “the fire is primarily behind us and up above the canyon. We’re rotating shifts.“
Hood River County and Cascade Locks leaders also visited with reporters. With 10 to 15mph winds forecast from the west, the community is on heightened alert. City leaders expressed concerns about heavy winds predicted for Monday.
“I've evacuated twice now,” said Cascade Locks City Administrator Gordon Zimmerman.
But the mosaic burn has not penetrated city lines, leaders say because of dedicated regional and national first responders.
“We are grateful for all of the response we've had,” said Zimmerman.
“It's going on the tops of the mountain around the town,” said Cramblett. “They've got a great fire break, so the towns are protected.”
Media crews were provided safe access to closed portions of I-84, which will remain closed at least through the weekend, as first responders work to contain the fire.
Oregon Department of Transportation officials say rocks, unstable debris and snapped or downed trees continue to threaten safe passage. Spokesperson Dave Thompson estimates 1500 to 2,000 have been determined are in danger of falling on I-84.
The safe removal of trees and debris will depend on the threat of the fire.
Media crews took photos of the 1936 built Tooth Rock Tunnel in Cascade Locks as ODOT crews worked to assess any damage.
ODOT crews will prioritize opening the westbound lanes first Thompson said. “The eastbound lane, closer to the flames will be closed longer. There are alternate routes drivers can use.”