Community braces for Eagle Creek Fire aftermath

Flooding and landslides are inevitable after the fire damaged 50,000 acres

Cascade Locks residents are celebrating returning home after evacuating due to the Eagle Creek Fire on September 15, 2017. (KOIN)
Cascade Locks residents are celebrating returning home after evacuating due to the Eagle Creek Fire on September 15, 2017. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Eagle Creek Fire is 50% contained, but its the aftermath that has communities in the Columbia River Gorge on edge.

Emergency teams have been accessing the risks for weeks and Tuesday night spoke to community members about what to expect.

In Cascade Locks and the surrounding areas, firefighters have done their job protecting communities from the flames. But with charred soil, downed trees and heavy rain on the way, the problems are only just beginning.

Complete coverage of the Eagle Creek Fire

“A lot of it is nature,” Brad Siemens with the U.S. Forest Service said. “We only have so much power to actually get in the way and stop what we see coming down the hill.”

People in the community say they appreciate the support and help from all the agencies that have responded since the fire started on September 2. 

“They saved out town and I’m extremely grateful,” Cascade Locks resident Jeanine Szidon said.

“They just didn’t come out and put out the fires, they’re really covering the whole situation,” JoAnn Wittenberg said.

Full restoration could take years and no one knows for sure how bad the fire damage will impact the area throughout the winter, but landslides and flooding are inevitable.

“It’s frustrating to us too,” Siemens said.

There will be another community meeting Wednesday, October 18, at 6:00 p.m. at the Hood River Middle School Auditorium 1602 May Street, Hood River.