Smoke from ECF blows back toward Portland

The Eagle Creek Fire is 17% contained

ODOT crews clean up along I-84 from the Eagle Creek Fire, September 14, 2017 (KOIN)
ODOT crews clean up along I-84 from the Eagle Creek Fire, September 14, 2017 (KOIN)

TROUTDALE, Ore. (KOIN) — The Eagle Creek Fire spread to 37,567 acres on Thursday as ODOT continued to clean up I-84. Westbound lanes reopened Thursday night between Hood River and Troutdale after ODOT crews determined it was no longer threatened by the fire.

Eastbound lanes are still closed and will be until further notice. Ramps along that stretch of road will also be closed.

A plume of smoke from back burning in the Eagle Creek Fire on September 14, 2017. (KOIN)
A plume of smoke from back burning in the Eagle Creek Fire on September 14, 2017. (KOIN)

Don Hamilton with ODOT said during Thursday’s press conference that the I-84 closure was the longest closure for that area in recent memory.

“We hope to open the westbound lanes soon,” Hamilton said. “We’ll be ready to go sometime today, but are keeping it closed due to the nature of the fire — particularly near Herman Creek.”

The blaze was 17% contained but remained active overnight Wednesday on the northeastern side. A series of spot fires and uphill runs originating in Herman Creek resulted in fire on the ridges east of Gorton Creek and Harphan Creek.

A change in the wind pattern blew smoke from the Gorge back toward the Portland metro area, with reports of smoke coming from as far as Washington County.

Hamilton also said the Columbia Gorge Express will not run for the remainder of the year.

ODOT crews clean up along I-84 from the Eagle Creek Fire, September 14, 2017 (KOIN)
ODOT crews clean up along I-84 from the Eagle Creek Fire, September 14, 2017 (KOIN)

ODOT has cut down more than 3,000 trees lining the side of the highway with plans to cut down more in the future.

However, officials are worried about the upcoming rain. The fire has softened the soil on the ground, so the area is prone to land, mud and rockslides.

If I-84 is reopened within the next few days, officials said there’s a good chance the highway could be forced to close again because of slides.

On the southeast corner of the fire, growth was primarily to the east towards Waucoma Ridge — prompting new evacuation orders in Hood River County.

The fire still is expected to continue growing, mainly to the south and to a lesser extent the east, but at a slower rate.

Lt. Damon Simmons said, “Yes, this fire is moving, but this is something we prepared for, we’re ready for.”

Cooler weather later in the week could help slow its advance.

Level 3 GO evacuation orders are in effect in the areas of:
Dodson
Warrendale
Bridal Veil
East Historic Columbia River Highway: East of Alex Barr Road, addresses in the 43800 block and higher
Larch Mountain Road: East of Brower Road, addresses in the 45800 block and higher
All of Brower Road including Toll Road
E Haines Road, addresses in the 43800 block and higher

Level 2 Be Set evacuation orders are in effect in the areas of:
Latourell
Larch Mountain Road: West of Brower Road, addresses in the 45700 block and lower — including Salzman Road and Alder Meadows
E Haines Road, addresses in the 43700 block and lower (toward Larch Mountain Road)
Corbett
Springdale
Troutdale, addresses east of the Sandy River

The Archer Mountain Fire was 100% contained Wednesday morning — prompting the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office to lift all evacuation levels.