Eagle Creek, Whitewater fires under Flash Flood Watch

The Eagle Creek Fire began September 2, 2017

The map of the Eagle Creek Fire, September 17, 2017 (USFS)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Fifteen days after the Eagle Creek Fire erupted, more than 1000 fire personnel continue to battle the blaze that has now consumed more than 48,000 acres in the Columbia River Gorge.

Officials said the fire is now 32% contained and the rain that’s forecast is expected to help the fight — and to clear the air from the smoke and haze that laid over the region. “We’re expected to get some rain and that’s supposed to really help the situation,” Deputy Joel Ives said.

Latest details: Eagle Creek Fire

But Sunday afternoon, the National Weather Service issued a Flash Flood Watch for the Eagle Creek and Whitewater fire burn areas.

The watch includes Government Camp, Detroit, Santiam Pass, Corbett, Rooster Rock, Multnomah Falls, Cascade Locks, Hood River, North Bonneville, Stevenson, Carson, and Underwood.

“Heavy rain can trigger landslides and debris flows in steep terrain, and the risk is higher in burn areas,” Bill Burns, engineering geologist at the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI), said in a statement. “Be aware of the landslide hazard, and avoid burn areas.”

Landslide hazards

Steve Sobieszczyk with U.S. Geological Service said landslides are not predictable. You can know where they may happen, but not know when.

Saturday, PF&R Lt. Damon Simmons — acting as the Oregon Fire Marshal — said there was some growth on the south side, but “everything is looking good” on the western edge.

Complete coverage: Eagle Creek Fire

The daily media briefings that have been a staple of the fire since it began have now been curtailed. Authorities said they would continue to provide updates and would have a press conference as events warrant.

ODOT officials are keeping a close eye on I-84. The westbound lanes were re-opened Thursday, then closed for a brief time Saturday for tree removal. However, the eastbound lanes remain closed and will stay closed indefinitely.

KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story.