Substantial rain that fell across the Eagle Creek Fire Tuesday left most portions of the fire in a smoldering state. The exception was in the northeast corner where minimal creeping has been observed, but even that resulted in only three acres of growth in the past 24 hours. Smoke can still be seen in many areas and occasional torching may be seen. Crews continue to patrol and mop up hot spots along the perimeter. Soil and hydrology specialists with the Oregon Department of Transportation have been surveying areas along the Interstate 84 corridor as officials continue to assess public safety through the burn area. There remains a high potential for falling trees, falling rock and debris slides within the fire area. The fire camp at the Hood River County Fairgrounds has been demobilized with a new incident command post established at the Best Western Columbia River Inn in Cascade Locks. Northwest Incident Management Team 12, assumed command of the fire from departing Southwest Area Incident Management Team 2 Wednesday morning. More personnel were also released from the fire, dropping the number of people assigned to it to 243.
The Port of Hood River is going to push ahead with preparing a request for proposal for engineering, environmental feasibility study, and financial feasibility assessment work on a potential new Interstate Bridge after learning the Oregon Department of Transportation may make five million dollars for those projects approved by the Legislature this summer available by the start of next year. Port Commissioners held a worksession on the bridge replacement project this week. Port Executive Director Michael McElwee says ODOT has indicated they will be preparing a draft agreement to make the money available as soon as January, so the Port will be starting the RFP process. Port Commissioners have decided to wait on seeking federal funding at this point, with McElwee noting the current federal transportation program favors projects ready for construction.
The Hood River County Board of Commissioners approved the re-opening of county forest lands. The only roads and areas to remain closed are those adjacent to the fire lines that run between Kingsley Reservoir and Post Canyon. Those areas are signed. Mount Hood National Forest areas west of Highway 35 and north of Mt. Hood remain closed.
The City of Bingen will be applying for a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development program to replace the city’s water reservoir. Bingen Mayor Betty Barnes says the project has been on their radar for some time. The reservoir was constructed in 1948. Barnes adds the City is loaning its water fund money from its sewer fund to cover the cost of a recent emergency reservoir repair when its control system malfunctioned.
Hood River Valley def. Hermiston 25-12, 25-14, 25-21: Kennedy James and Shae Duffy had seven kills each for the Eagles.
Pendleton def. The Dalles 25-13, 25-16, 21-25, 25-15
South Wasco def. Sherman 25-7, 23-25, 25-16, 25-13
Dufur def. Klickitat 25-17, 25-8, 25-15
Lyle-Wishram def. Mabton 25-18, 25-16, 18-25, 25-20: Amber Tompkins had six aces, eight service points, four perfect passes, and ten kills.
Goldendale def. Naches Valley 25-16, 24-26, 25-27, 25-22, 15-13: Sierra Plum led the Timberwolves with 46 assists and 13 digs.
Hood River Valley 2, LaSalle 1
The Dalles 1, Ridgeview 0
Hood River Valley 1, LaSalle 0
Ridgeview 7, The Dalles 0
Stevenson 2, Portland Christian 2
LaSalle (Yakima) 13, Goldendale 0
Girls Water Polo
Hood River Valley 18, Grant 3
There is still no timetable for re-opening eastbound lanes of Interstate 84 between Hood River and Troutdale. Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Don Hamilton says they are getting closer to opening it, but they want to make sure it is as safe as possible before doing so. Hamilton says they are watching the slopes closely with rains arriving in the area, with concern for landslides, particularly on fire-damaged slopes. He says they have removed over three-thousand trees in the Gorge that were in danger of falling into the freeway after being burned in the fire.
Cooler temperatures and rain prevailed across the Eagle Creek Fire on Monday, with up to three inches of rain falling on the west side of the fire, and closer to one inch on the east side. The current rain helps significantly reduce fire behavior, but it doesn’t completely put out heat below the surface layer of debris in the fire perimeter, so smoke continues to be visible in the fire perimeter. More rain is expected through Thursday. The 48,665 acre fire now has a 46 percent containment level. Equipment and personnel are being released from the fire, with sufficient resources retained to continue mop up and patrols, with a focus on the fire’s edges. The Southwest Area Type 1 Incident Management Team is making preparations to transition as Northwest Team 12 arrives today, and crews are working to demobilize the current fire camp at the Hood River County Fairgrounds and make arrangements to move the command post to a smaller location.
The Oregon State Police says a wrong-way driver died in a head-on collision with a semi-truck Monday evening on Interstate 84 in Gilliam County. The OSP received word of a van traveling the wrong way in the I-84 eastbound lanes near milepost 141 east of Arlington on Monday at about 7:40 p.m. Minutes later, the van was reported to have crashed head-on into a semi tractor-trailer carrying vehicles. The OSP says a preliminary investigation revealed the van had traveled westbound in the eastbound lanes at about 55 to 60 miles per hour. The van crashed into the semi head on and came to a rest on top of the concrete center-line divider. The semi caught fire and became fully engulfed in flames, completely blocking the entire interstate for several hours. The driver and sole occupant of the van was pronounced deceased at the scene and his identity is being withheld pending notification to the family. The driver of the semi, identified as 24 year old California resident, was treated for non-life threatening injuries at the scene.
A large gathering assembled to give their views during The Dalles City Council’s town hall meeting on tourism. Topics brought up ranged from keeping downtown clean, to marketing tactics, to transportation services, with several people recommending a tourism advisory committee involving people who are involved in the industry. Mayor Steve Lawrence says the Council wanted to gather information toward developing a direction during goal setting and budget planning in 2018. Lawrence noted input on the lack of RV parks in the area, saying local visitor information centers continually get requests for information on that kind of facility, but there isn’t one available. The City currently has a contract with The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce for that organization to provide tourism services, but it expires after the 2018-19 fiscal year.
Hood River County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mike Glover says based on response to a survey of local downtown businesses and anecdotal evidence, business has been down 30 to 50 percent during the Eagle Creek Fire and closure of eastbound Interstate 84 compared to the same period of time a year ago. Glover says a brief survey the Chamber did of downtown Hood River businesses showed found a basic trend, with the majority saying the impact of the freeway closure was negative but not catastrophic. Glover said 52 percent of respondents said they had not had to lay off anyone at this point. He said the Chamber is looking at various different marketing ideas to be ready to promote tourism after eastbound I-84 does reopen, noting Hops Fest has been rescheduled to October 7 and Harvest Festival is set for the following weekend.