Eagle Creek Fire evacuees heartbroken over blaze

The Red Cross set up shelter at Mt. Hood Community College

Sally King is a Columbia Gorge resident who evacuated because of the Eagle Creek Fire, September 6, 2017 (KOIN)
Sally King is a Columbia Gorge resident who evacuated because of the Eagle Creek Fire, September 6, 2017 (KOIN)

GRESHAM, Ore. (KOIN) — Sally King left a lifetime worth of memories when she evacuated her house as the Eagle Creek Fire chewed up territory in the path of her home. For much of her adult life, she managed Vista House but she’s lived in the Columbia River Gorge longer than that.

She said her heart is breaking as she watches the fire sweep through the area she loves.

“The whole area is our home. Our friends, our neighbors are there and we all share the same things together,” she told KOIN 6 News.

Columbia River Gorge residents affected by the Eagle Creek Fire took shelter at Mt. Hood Community College, with Red Cross support (KOIN)
Columbia River Gorge residents affected by the Eagle Creek Fire took shelter at Mt. Hood Community College, with Red Cross support (KOIN)

It was “go time” for Jose Bailey Tuesday afternoon when the Eagle Creek Fire dropped hot embers at his feet.

“It was black ash and then became burning embers and all of a sudden it was less than 10 miles away, the fire line,” he said. “I said, ‘I think I gotta evac.'”

Most of the 75 people at the Red Cross shelter at the Mount Hood Community College literally came in with nothing but the clothes on their back. One woman brought in baby pictures because that is what she wanted to preserve.

The people who spoke with KOIN 6 News said they will wait out the fire at the shelter as they try to make sense of an unbelievable ordeal.

This Red Cross shelter has food, children’s activities, restrooms, showers and emotional support.

Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese addressed social media reports of looting and theft in the level 3 evacuation zones, saying there is a significant law enforcement presence in those areas to protect homes.

Police and deputy’s are paroling and limiting access to people who really need to be there to prevent robberies. Reese said they are looking into reports based on suspect information they get.

KOIN 6 News will have more information later in the day.