Containment of the Substation Fire has jumped up to 82 percent…with zero fire movement yesterday and acreage reduced to 79,121 due to accurate mapping. Public Information Officer Kale Casey says the only location with isolated heat are in the Eight Mile Canyon and the Deschutes River Canyon…where there are bigger trees and riparian areas.
The structural damage report has gone up since yesterday’s community meeting…with four secondary buildings added to a list that included four primary residences, four industrial buildings, 48 outbuildings, eight commercial vehicles, and one RV were destroyed, while four primary residences, two industrial buildings, and three outbuildings were damaged.
Fire officials expect to begin the transition back to local authorities today. Cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Sherman County Sheriff Brad Lohrey said yesterday he anticipated Level 2 evacuation advisories currently in place to be reduced to Level 1 in the next day or two.
Speakers at the community meeting did emphasize people who have suffered damages in the fire should file claims were their insurance companies quickly.
There is a public information line for the Substation Fire: 503-597-8076.
Wasco County Sheriff Lane Magill issued a statement Saturday on the investigation into the Substation Fire, emphasizing investigators need all credible information reported to them.
If anyone was traveling on Highway 197 between milepost 1 and milepost 3 on Tuesday at or about 3:30 p.m. and saw anything suspicious, like someone parked on the side of the road or someone throwing something out the window of a car, they are asked to call the a tip line set up by the Oregon State Police at 1-800-452-7888. Magill says any information about vehicles in the area or what was seen directly before or after the fire is important to investigators. Anyone with a dash camera, or cameras on residences or business in that area, are asked to call investigators.
Magill has also asked those returning residents not to clean up their property at this time, as the Sheriff’s Office would like to speak with residents and photograph damaged property. Magill asked for patience as the process could take some time to complete, adding they ask that estimated financial losses be reported when contacted by investigators.
If property owners have not been contacted by the Wasco County Sheriff’s Office, they can call Sgt. Jeff Hall at 541-506-2580.
The Deschutes River has been reopened to boater traffic. Those who recreate in and around the river should use extreme caution. Boaters will have to pull off in areas that have recently burned if they plan to camp between Macks Canyon and Heritage Landing. Black spots may still have hot spots, dangerous stump holes, or rolling material, and avoid standing trees and snags in recently burned areas that may have been weakened and are at risk of falling. Also, river staff may temporarily hold up water users while helicopters are dipping or flying overhead. When that happens, stay away from the helicopters.
Hood River County Commissioners have approved a forestland exchange with Farmers Irrigation District. Under the deal, the County exchanges just over nineteen acres of forestland surrounding Kingsley Reservoir for over 39 acres owned by the irrigation district that will be incorporated into the designated County Forest. The exchange compensates the County for land, timber and infrastructure which will be flooded and destroyed as a result of Farmers’ reservoir expansion project that is underway. Commission Chair Ron Rivers says they were able to meet the financial balance required by law for the County to proceed. In other business the Commission scheduled a hearing for August 6 on whether to put a three percent tax on marijuana sales in the County on the November ballot. The County has the option to establish the tax, but under state law it must be approved by voters.
An omission on petition sheets has White Salmon, Bingen, and Klickitat County officials taking a new direction to get a Metropolitan Park District to establish and operate a new swimming pool in White Salmon before voters in November. Mayor David Poucher says they were informed by the County Auditor that petitions signed by over 700 people did not have a required notice about the consequences of knowingly signing the document without being a resident or registered voter. Poucher says it would be nearly impossible to re-gather those signatures in the three weeks remaining, and he went to the County Commission for another option to get the question to the ballot. He said Commissioners would put a resolution to put the district on the ballot on an upcoming meeting agenda. Poucher said the Commission will require the district backers to reach the 725 signatures that would be needed to qualify for the ballot, adding he expects they will reach 1,000.
Paid parking has been in effect on some Port of Hood River owned streets in the Waterfront area, and Port Executive Director Michael McElwee says it is achieving most of the targets set out for it. McElwee says they are seeing people beginning to understand the system, and the rate of people using it going up. He adds they are seeing a “vast reduction” in the number of people trying to camp overnight on Port property. But McElwee says there are adjustments that will need to be made…including signage for different areas of the waterfront, and helping people understand where they can use their waterfront parking pass.
The Dalles Chamber of Commerce CEO Lisa Farquharson is working to find a tourism director to lead the community into its next growth phase in tourism. In past years, Farquharson has served as the tourism director, but funding from the City for the current fiscal year allowed her to seek someone to serve in that role, noting as tourism grows in The Dalles the CEO can’t do both jobs. Farquharson says they closed applications for the job last week, and will now move on to interviewing finalists for the job.
There will be a full closure of the Hood River/White Salmon Interstate Bridge beginning at 11:00 p.m. on Thursday and continuing through 1:00 a.m. Friday. Northwest Natural Gas crews will be on the bridge performing inspections of their gas line utility. This work requires a full height lift of the bridge’s lift span. Port crews will be on-site to lower the lift span for emergency response vehicle crossings if needed, but all other access will be closed. Bridge users should seek alternate routes during those hours.
A 25 acre wildfire was discovered late Sunday afternoon on the Clackamas River Ranger District of the Mt. Hood National forest. The Collawash Fire is burning in grass and brush under a Bonneville Power Administration powerline corridor along Forest Road 63 south of Raab Campground. A Forest Service spokesperson says multiple engines, water tenders, and hand crews are responding to the incident and making good progress in building a line around the fire. The cause of the wildfire is under investigation. No closures are currently in place but visitors should use caution driving near the fire area due the presence of firefighters and equipment along roads in the vicinity and the possibility of reduced visibility caused by smoke.
A fire Sunday afternoon on Mott Road in the High Prairie area burned about 86 acres. Klickitat County Fire District #14 Chief Tim Darland says no structures were lost. The fire started around 4:30 Sunday afternoon, and was contained by 10:30 p.m. The Washington Department of Natural Resources had a strike team of five engines along with a tender from High Prairie Fire at the site today to continue to mop up the fire. Darland indicated the fire was caused by a lawn mower. Crews from High Prairie, DNR, Lyle, Centerville, Rural 7, Goldendale, The U.S. Forest Service…and Bingen were all involved in the firefighting effort.
Interstate 84 will be closed nights eastbound and westbound at exit 56 west of Hood River the next four nights, but delays may be minimal because the off-ramp leads directly to an on-ramp and a quick return to the highway. The Oregon Department of Transportation says they closure will be in place Monday through Thursday nights from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. The work is weather-dependent, and unfavorable conditions could change the schedule. Crews will resurface the bridge over the exit 56 interchange at Viento State Park and repair the bridge deck membrane.
The PacificSource Columbia Gorge Coordinated Care Organization announced that it will receive more than $2.8 million dollars from Quality Pool payments from the Oregon Health Authority for quality performance during 2017. PacificSource Community Solutions will allocate the money received from OHA back to the care providers for the Columbia Gorge CCO, as well as create funds over which the Columbia Gorge Health Council has decision-making authority. The pool of funds will be used for initiatives throughout the Columbia Gorge aimed at improving the health of the community. The Columbia Gorge CCO met performance targets on 15 of 17 quality measures. Quality measures are used by the OHA to determine how successful CCOs have been at improving care and making quality care accessible. Performance on clinical measures in the Columbia Gorge CCO was the highest in the state in two areas: follow up care for people who have been hospitalized for mental health conditions and satisfaction with customer service from the health insurer.