Ash Falls Like Snow as Wildfires Rage in Pacific Northwest
Sep 08 2017
Numerous hikers had gone up the Eagle Creek Trail on Saturday to swim at the popular waterfalls and pools, but a fire broke out near the Columbia River Gorge trail about 90 miles (144 kilometers) east of Portland. The fires, which are burning east of Portland, have scorched nearly 31,000 acres and have forced hundreds of residents to flee from their homes.
There are 928 individuals working on the fire, which has burned 33,000 acres.
With fire danger high, Gov. Jay Inslee on Saturday declared a state of emergency for all of Washington. Strong, hot winds on Monday afternoon fueled the spread of the fires through a scenic, heavily touristed section of the Columbia River Gorge.
Oregon State Police are looking for people with information about the fire to come forward.
"The smoke will hopefully moderate as the fire activity goes down, and that's going to be across the West, and that's going to happen as we get cooler temperatures and deeper into the fall", Kern said. The air has been smoky on and off for weeks, prompting the National Weather Service to issue numerous air quality alerts. Cinder from the fire wafted in the air across the Columbia River provoking blazes in the neighboring Washington state. "We will continue to patrol and access structural protection needs", said Ian Yocum, Incident Commander with the Oregon State Fire Marshal. And an untold number of residents have been evacuated from Cascade Locks and other small towns lining one of the state's most beloved natural areas. The spot fire across the Columbia River in Washington has expanded to 209 acres. Washington State Route 14 is open to passenger vehicle traffic, but closed to commercial vehicles. "Large trees nearby torched and fire crews used hose lines to protect the lodge from heat", officials wrote.
As of Thursday morning, Hood River was not under any evacuation order, except for public use lands.
The hikers were forced to spend the night outside near Tunnel Falls, about six miles from the trailhead, and were still waiting to be rescued Sunday morning, Oregon Livereported. "I can not believe that I saw the smoke bomb and how quickly it turned to this trail of smoke, to billowing fire, to this huge thing". Residents east of 257th Avenue, north of Stark Street and west of the Sandy River should get ready for a possible evacuation. On Tuesday night, the Multnomah County Sheriff tweeted that "the fire has slowed way down for now".
In northwestern Montana, members of an Amish community evacuated before 10 homes and 30 outbuildings were destroyed were staying with other families.