Oregonians told 'get ready' for possible evacuation as Eagle Creek Fire grows

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TROUTDALE, Ore. -- Miles of Interstate 84 east of Portland remain closed as crews battle the growing Eagle Creek wildfire that has forced communities to evacuate and sparked blazes across the Columbia River in Washington state.

Gov. Kate Brown planned to join a briefing on the fire conditions Tuesday afternoon at the fire command center in Troutdale.

Hundreds of people have been forced to evacuate because of a massive fire that started Saturday. The blaze, which officials think may have been caused by fireworks, forced the shutdown of more than 30 miles of I- 84 east of Portland through the scenic Columbia River Gorge, between Troutdale and Hood River. Trucks heading westbound are being detoured off the highway at The Dalles.

See latest traffic updates from Tripcheck

Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Don Hamilton said the freeway will likely remain closed all of Tuesday due to poor visibility from smoke and the fire getting closer to the road. He said they will work with law enforcement to determine when to reopen the road. 

On the Washington side of the gorge, trucks over 10,000 lbs. (gross) are prohibited from driving between Washougal and Dallesport on State Route 14 due to the fire. But transportation officials asked all drivers to avoid SR-14 altogether if possible.

As of Tuesday morning, the fire has grown to more than 10,000 acres and has involved approximately 500 emergency personnel. No known residential structure losses have been reported.

Photos: Fire in Gorge

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Authorities said Tuesday embers from the fire caused a new blaze across the Columbia River in Washington state. 

Winds pushed the fire west on Monday and smoke was blown over much of the gorge and Portland metro area. Residents as far west as Hillsboro reported ash falling. An air quality warning is in effect in the area until Tuesday night.

Photos: Ash falling in Portland metro area

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Evacuation Orders

Level 3 evacuations have forced people from approximately 400 homes.

On Tuesday, authorities issued a Level 1 evacuation order for people living in east Troudale. Residents east of 257th Avenue, north of Stark Street and west of the Sandy River should get ready for a possible evacuation.

In Washington, Skamania County officials announced Tuesday morning a new fire had started near Archer Mountain, above the Prindle area, and Level 3 evacuations were in place for Archer Mountain Road-Smith Crops and Deville Road.

Several schools in evacuation areas are closed. Click here for list of school updates

Level 3 evacuation orders, meaning residents should leave immediately, have been ordered for the following communities:

Oregon

  • Warrendale
  • Dodson
  • Larch Mountain
  • Latourell
  • Bridal Veil
  • Corbett (East of the 38700 block of Columbia River Highway)

Washington

  • Archer Mt. Road
  • Franz Road
  • Smith Cripe Road
  • Kellet Road
  • Victoria Lane

Level 2 evacuation orders, meaning residents should be ready to leave at a moment's notice, have been issued for the following communities:

Oregon

  • Parts of Cascade Locks
  • Corbett/Springdale (West of 37800 block of the Columbia River Highway to the Sandy River)

Level 1 evacuation orders, meaning people should get ready for a potential evacuation, have been issued for:

Oregon

  • East Troutdale (East of 257th Avenue, north of Stark Street and west of the Sandy River)

Red Cross shelters are set up at Mount Hood Community College in Gresham, the Skamania County Fairgrounds in Stevenson, Washington.

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The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office says fire onlookers are hindering rescue operations. Officials are asking people to not drive into areas impacted by the fire.

Read more: How to help those impacted by the Eagle Creek Fire

Cause of fire identified

On Sunday, Oregon State Police said the fire appeared to be human-caused, likely by the misuse of fireworks. They said a suspect has been identified.

The investigation into the cause of the fire is being conducted by the Oregon State Police, U.S. Forest Service, Hood River Sheriff's Office, Hood River District Attorney's Office and fire personnel.

Hikers rescued

More than 150 hikers were forced to spend the night in the mountains east of Portland made it down the trail to safety on Sunday.

Deputy Joel Ives said all of the hikers were accounted for. One hiker was taken out by ambulance for exhaustion and dehydration.

RELATED: 'Just want to cry with relief': Families, stranded hikers reunite

Many of the hikers had gone up the Eagle Creek Trail on Saturday to swim at the popular waterfalls and pools when the fire broke out below them at around 4:30 p.m.

The hikers found themselves trapped between the new Eagle Creek Fire and the older Indian Creek Fire, which had been burning to the south since July 4. Firefighters have not been able to work on the fire directly due to steep, unsafe conditions. 

Get the latest wildfire updates here

The only way to get the hikers out was through a longer, more difficult 14-mile route. With daylight fading on Saturday night, officials told them spend the night near Tunnel Falls. Mountain Wave Search & Rescue dropped supplies to the hikers.

Sky 8 video: Fire burns in Columbia River Gorge

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Mountain Wave Search & Rescue president Russ Gubele said search and rescue teams headed up the second trail on Sunday morning and led the hikers out the 14 miles toward Wahtum Lake.

The first group made it out by about 10:30 a.m. and the last group by about 1 or 1:30 p.m.

"It's horribly smoky," Gubele said. "Ash is coming down. It's like a Mount Saint Helens eruption all over again."

On Saturday, 14 hikers were brought out and returned to Eagle Creek and three hikers were rescued by National Guard helicopter.

Watch: Helicopter rescues trapped hiker

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Important phone numbers

  • Inciweb general info about fire: 541-392-1631
  • Hood River County Evacuation information: 541-387-6911
  • Multnomah County Emergency Evacuation info: 503-823-2323

© 2017 KGW-TV


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