Eagle Creek Fire evacs over; landslides a concern

The Eagle Creek Fire began September 2

Debris along I-84 from the Eagle Creek Fire, September 18, 2017 (Hood River County Sheriff's Office)
Debris along I-84 from the Eagle Creek Fire, September 18, 2017 (Hood River County Sheriff's Office)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The arrival of rain and lower temperatures has led authorities to drop all evacuation levels in the Hood River Valley and in Multnomah County.

Evacuation notices had been issued because of the large wildfire that’s been burning in the Columbia River Gorge since Labor Day weekend.

On Monday, the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office downgraded all evacuation levels for the Hood River Valley, returning zones to their normal, pre-fire status. Multnomah County lifted all evacuations in the early afternoon.

Though fire danger is easing, the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office reminds residents and motorists that a flash-flood watch is in effect, and landslides are a possibility. The watch is in effect through Wednesday morning.

“The problem is you have this very steep slope in the Gorge face and all that ground vegetation burned up,” Sgt. Pete Hughes with the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office said. “All that ground vegetation holds the rock. It’s all rock up through there and trees. As soon as that stuff is burned, it allows the rock and the trees to just fall.”

But the flash flood advisory in the I-84 corridor will remain on Level 1 — need to prepare — for residents in the Cascade Locks area. ODOT officials said they don’t know when eastbound lanes of I-84 will reopen.

“The areas that we’re most worried about on I-84 are the drainages, Herman Creek, Eagle Creek,” Don Hamilton with ODOT said. “We’re struggling enough to try to get the roads safe from trees, from rocks. If we get a rock slide that comes down tot he highway, it’s going to delay everything along in there.”

The Eagle Creek Fire has burned 48,387 acres  — 75 square miles — an area slightly smaller than Seattle (nearly 84 square miles) and, as of Monday morning, was 32% contained.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Debris along I-84 from the Eagle Creek Fire, September 18, 2017 (Hood River County Sheriff's Office)
Debris along I-84 from the Eagle Creek Fire, September 18, 2017 (Hood River County Sheriff’s Office)