The Wasson Pond Fire, east of The Dalles, is now 100% contained. Management of the fire reverted to Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue on Tuesday. MCFR said the size of the fire has been recalculated and it turned out to be 170 acres, instead of the 300 acres they thought previously. The fire was in rolling hills and valleys and that made it hard to figure. Mop-up operations have finished. There could still be a few hotspots, but there are patrols through the area every couple hours to take care of any flare-ups. No injuries were reported. Two pump houses were destroyed and a third was damaged.
After a productive night on the Wasson Pond Fire, crews mobilized under the conflagration Act are expected to be released this afternoon. Fire managers will meet with local fire officials to determine the need for the extra resources that were brought in Monday. The major concern yesterday was to keep the fire from spreading during the gusty winds in the afternoon and evening. As of this morning, the fire remains at 300 acres with 75% contained. Line construction will continue today to fully contain the fire. All of the evacuations were lowered to Level 1 last evening. But residents should be aware of the fire status and be ready to leave at a moment’s notice if necessary.
Officials at the Fifteen Mile Road Fire say the fire is now 80 percent contained…with the size now estimated at 3600 acres. Fire Public Information Officer Stan Hinatsu says strong winds again complicated firefighting efforts today with winds creating increased fire activity, but with the help of a single-engine air tanker firefighters were able to stop the forward progress of the blaze. Hinatsu says the fire is holding, even though there is still some open line at the northeast corner of the fire near Celilo Village, but the fire has quieted down substantially. Hinatsu added they hope to get to 100 percent containment in the next day, with the big challenge being to do enough mop-up for lines to hold in strong winds, but he also pointed out much of the line was wind tested today. All evacuation notices have been lifted at this point. Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Bureau of Land Management are operating as a unified command at the fire. MCFR Chief Bob Palmer says an investigation into the cause of the fire will be getting underway, with an investigator from the U.S. Forest Service being brought in to assist. No homes have been lost to the fire, but one tractor and two disc machines were destroyed. One firefighter suffered a bee sting, and a spotted deer fawn was rescued from the fire area and turned over to Rowena Wildlife of Mosier.
The annual burn ban for the The Dalles Unit of the Oregon Department of Forestry went into effect on Friday. The ban, done in conjunction with all local fire districts, affects all lands within Hood River and Wasco counties. All current burn permits will be void until the ban is lifted. ODF officials say the end of the ban will be determined at a later date when the region receives a significant amount of fall rain. Some exceptions may be granted for agricultural purposes, but permission must be obtained from your local fire agency. In addition ODF is in a Regulated Use Closure, which bans the use of all fireworks on ODF-protected lands.
Repair of sections of Highway 14 through Stevenson, White Salmon and Bingen will get underway on Tuesday. Last summer, crews resurfaced those areas using a liquid-asphalt mixture and crushed gravel to fill in cracks and create a watertight bond to protect the highway. But over the winter, the Washington Department of Transportation observed that portions were not holding up well, resulting in loose rocks on the roadway, and heavy truck traffic during the detour of Interstate 84 during the Mosier oil train derailment led to more damage. On Tuesday crews will alternate traffic through a single lane west of White Salmon near the State Route 141 spur from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. The following two nights, crews will detour traffic on Second Street in Stevenson between First Street and Northeast Frank Johns Road from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Vehicles parked along Second Street after 6 p.m. each night will be removed. More nighttime paving and striping work will be scheduled near Bingen in mid-July.
A fountain depicting the Corps of Discovery Expedition setting out in a canoe will be dedicated during Fourth of July activities at Lewis and Clark Festival Park in The Dalles. The fountain was created by Dufur’s Jeff Stewart, and was made possible through a number of monetary and in-kind donations. Dedication ceremonies will take place at noon on Monday, immediately following the Fourth of July Parade through downtown The Dalles. Attendees should arrive early as parking will be limited and downtown streets will be blocked for the parade. Fort Dalles Fourth events will take place throughout the day in the park.
Preparations for the annual Eyeopeners Lions fireworks show on the Fourth of July will limit access to some Port of Hood River facilities over the weekend. The Port will close the Spit area at noon on Sunday until noon on Tuesday. Access to the Sandbar from the Event Site will be closed at 7 p.m. Monday to all users due to the fireworks. Kiteboard launching and landing from the Event Site grass is prohibited. The sandy area of the Marina Beach will be closed at 7 p.m. on July 4. Once the Marina Park parking areas are full, “closed” signs will be posted at the entrance and additional vehicles will not be allowed into Marina Park. Use of fireworks by the public is prohibited on all Port properties, including the Marina and Waterfront areas. People planning on watching the fireworks from the Marina and the Waterfront are reminded that the show’s conclusion usually brings very heavy traffic congestion. The Port urges patience and cooperation to help ease the pressure created by the large number of vehicles attempting to exit the area at the same time.
A division chief with Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue says the 15 Mile Fire east of The Dalles is being called under control, but not contained. Strong winds in the area during the night grew the fire to an estimated 3500 acres. MCFR Division Chief Jay Wood said this morning containment lines are not completed, but the fire is at 60-to-80 percent containment level. He said the fire has gone past Celilo Village, to where Interstate 84 and Highway 30 turn to the south. Wood said no structures have been lost and there have been no injuries, but farmers have lost some equipment along with grazing land, wheat, and possibly some cattle. Wood said five fire engines and a hand crew of 20 people along with other firefighters are at the scene today. He noted command of the fire is now being split, with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Land Management now taking command of the eastern portion of the fire, while MCFR will do patrol and deal with hot spots on Fifteen Mile Hill and along Interstate 84. Wasco County Emergency Management has confirmed all evacuation orders have been lifted, but caution is advised as firefighting efforts continue in the area and personnel and equipment are still present. The fire began at 5:35 p.m. Thursday near Interstate 84 in the vicinity of mileposts 90 and 91. A public information hotline for the fire has been established at 541-506-2792. Crews from Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue, Columbia Rural Fire Protection District, Hood River County, Sherman County, Klickitat County, Washington Department of Natural Resources, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Bureau of Land Management have been involved in fighting the fire Interstate 84 is open between The Dalles and Biggs, but motorists are being asked to use caution.
Both the City Councils of The Dalles and Hood River have voted to put proposals for a three percent tax on recreational marijuana sales on the November ballot. State law allows municipalities to establish the tax with voter approval. Hood River City Manager Steve Wheeler says Hood River councilors want to use the proceeds in two areas: public safety funding and drug education. The Dalles City Council had similar thoughts, noting the potential increased law enforcement costs and a need to provide more education to the youth of the community.
City officials in The Dalles say they intend to take steps to improve relations with Native American tribes in the area. Mayor Steve Lawrence will act as the City’s emissary in those efforts to approach both the Warm Springs and Yakama tribes. Lawrence says the first step is to approach the tribes without any kind of agenda being involved. Lawrence indicated the hope of The Dalles is to emulate positive relationships like Pendleton has with the Umatilla tribe and Lincoln City with the Siletz tribe.