Destruction from Eagle Creek Fire could cause mudslides

Fire is 5% contained as of Thursday

Destruction from the Eagle Creek Fire can be seen from Chopper 6, Thursday September 7 2017. (KOIN)
Destruction from the Eagle Creek Fire can be seen from Chopper 6, Thursday September 7 2017. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Eagle Creek Fire has been roaring in the Gorge for 4 days and is expected to leave massive burn scars from Corbett to Cascade Locks.

Aerial video showed hundreds of trees completely burnt through the plume of smoke Thursday morning.

Lt. Damon Simmons said during a press conference that the fire was a “mosaic burn” and there was significant damage to many trails. However, he also said there were still many patches of healthy trees that hadn’t been affected by the fire.

Kimberly Dinwittie with the Oregon Department of Transportation said there are 1,500-2,000 damaged trees that are in danger of falling into the roadway on I-84. Crews are working on a plan to clear them out and figure out when it can reopen. However, a section of the highway will likely be closed on and off this winter due to the concern of rocks and trees falling.

The fire is burning away at the roots and vegetation that keeps the hillsides stable — without it, more erosion will occur as the rain comes in, according to geologists.

Mudslides could also be a possibility, which would not only threaten drivers along I-84, but hundreds who live in the Gorge area as well as hikers.

The Eagle Creek Fire grew to more than 33,000 acres by Thursday. Officials estimate it will be contained by Sept. 30.