For those of us living near the Columbia River Gorge, spending the last few days under smoky skies and a thin blanket of ash has added some personal misery to the emotional loss of knowing the Gorge will be a different place in the months and years to come. The human-caused Eagle Creek fire and the Indian Creek fire have been merged into over 30,000 acres of burned forest. Until the fires are out, we won't know just how extensively burned these areas are, but going by the photos being shared on social media and in the news, this fire appears to have done a lot of damage. Our hearts go out to The Gorge, those who call it home, and all of the wonderful firefighters, volunteers, and support staff who are working tirelessly to contain the fire!
The foremost concern right now is that people under evacuation orders are able to get to safety and that firefighting personnel, currently 602 people, are able to do their work unhindered by anyone who does not need to be in the area. Kevin Gorman, Executive Director of Friends of the Columbia Gorge, has asked that the general public avoid the gorge for the immediate future. "The situation is continuing to rapidly evolve and it's crucial that members of the public stay out of the Gorge at this point," says Gorman. "Keeping the roads clear for firefighters, first responders and evacuating Gorge residents is critical." Friends of the Columbia Gorge has also put together a webpage listing all trail closures and other critical updates for the general public, and will be keeping it updated as the firefighting efforts continue.
According to OPB, the fire has reached the Bull Run Watershed but does not currently pose a risk to Portland's water supply.
It appears that efforts to protect the Multnomah Falls Lodge have been successful as of now, though the structure remains threatened.
Rain is expected later this week. This will help slow the spread of the fire and assist firefighters in battling the wildfire.
As the fire continues, up-to-date fire information is available on the Eagle Creek Fire InciWeb page.
Many people have expressed a desire to help out. Friends of Columbia Gorge is recommending people make donations to Hood River County Search and Rescue. They are serving alongside the Oregon National Guard, U.S. Forest Service and the Red Cross to assist Gorge residents impacted by the fire. Friends of the Columbia Gorge has setup a donation website specifically for Hood River County Search and Rescue.
Multnomah County has started receiving physical donations such as bottled water and other goods for people displaced by the fire. However, they do not have the storage or distribution capacity to take these donated items and have asked that people contact the local Red Cross Shelter instead.