The Shaniko Butte Fire is now 50 percent contained. The fire 15 miles north of Warm Springs has burned 42,500 acres. Firefighters were not able to complete their planned burnout operation Sunday because the relative humidity was too high and horses had grazed the grass too short. The grass was cropped low and would not carry fire because it was just a little too damp, so the firefighters finally had to stop trying to ignite it. Crews used the extra time to further improve the line in preparation for later ignition, and also to more thoroughly patrol the river area and extinguish any hot spots that were discovered. Fire behavior has moderated with higher humidities and lower temperatures with moderate winds. The Deschutes River was reopened to recreationalists on Sunday.
Most of the firefighters who have been mopping up the 652-acre White River Fire west of Maupin are hitting the road today. The Oregon Department of Forestry incident management team declared the fire 100 percent contained this morning, and turned direction of continued mop-up operations to The Dalles Unit of State Forestry. Several crews, engines, and other equipment remain to ensure the fire stays inside its containment lines. Crews completed a fire line around the perimeter of the blaze, then fully extinguished all hot spots within 300 to 500 feet of the fire line. Many of those who helped contain the White River Fire are now on their way to other wildfires.
Cloud Cap Road will not open on July 27 as previously announced. Mount Hood National Forest officials say contractors are making progress on removing hazard trees along Cloud Cap Road, but they are not finished so the road will remain closed to the public it is safe to reopen it. Existing reservations for Cloud Cap Inn tours will be honored at a later date but no reservations will be taken until it is certain when the road will be open. The Hood River Ranger District is considering the addition of Saturday tours for a short time due to the delay in reopening the road. The District offers Sunday tours of the historic Cloud Cap Inn during the summer.
On a 3-1 vote, Port of Hood River Commissioners have approved an amended disposition and development agreement with Key Development that would see the former Expo Center building demolished and the space used for parking between a new facility for Turtle Island Foods and two commercial buildings. Port Executive Director Michael McElwee says the Commission put a pair of conditions on the DDA, one of which calls for Key to provide a strategy for leasing of the commercial buildings prior to closing. The other condition would not allow housing in the commercial buildings without Port approval. For the new Turtle Island Foods building to occur the City of Hood River must approve an application to change the zoning of the Expo Center and parking lot from Commercial to Light Industrial, while for the commercial buildings to be constructed a condition in that particular commercial zone for an expo or visitors center to exist must be removed by the City. Those requests will probably be addressed in September or October.
Crews on the White River Fire 12 miles west of Tygh Valley have increased the containment level of the 652-acre fire to 80 percent, with full containment expected by the end of the week. Some of the 458 personnel that have been assigned to the fire were to be released today, and many will be reassigned to other fires burning in the Northwest. Firefighters today will be working under Red Flag Warning conditions with 100-degree heat, humidity below 20 percent, and strong winds. That increases the likelihood of increased fire activity deep inside the fire lines where there are scattered unburned fuels and numerous hot spots. Hose lines and portable water ponds have been set up to stretch mop up capabilities deep into the White River Canyon. Elsewhere, the Waterman Complex of fires near Mitchell has burned over 4,300 acres, and significant spread is expected today due to the hot and windy conditions.
The Hood River City Planning Commission once again approved a permit for Natio Development’s proposed hotel and retail building at the south end of the Nichols Boat Basin. The latest Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals remand was specific to dealing with flood hazards as called for in Goal 7 of the municipal comprehensive land use plan. City Planner Cindy Walbridge says the Commission looked at what the criteria could and could not do, noting Naito would still need to get permits approved by NOAA Fisheries and the Army Corps of Engineers. Walbridge says findings of fact will be completed over the next couple of days to set up a potential appeal by project opponents Friends of the Hood River Waterfront. The Hood River City Council has already set aside August 11 to hold a hearing on that appeal.
A Bend-area man was sentenced after pleading guilty to multiple misdemeanor and felony charges related to illegal guiding and hunting activities that resulted in the unlawful killing of numerous elk and buffalo in Wheeler and Deschutes counties after one of the most extensive investigations in Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Division history. 43-year-old Alan Aronson was sentenced to 30 days in jail, received a lifetime hunting license suspension, must make approximately $66,050 in fines and restitution, and forfeited property including a pick-up and two UTV’s that were determined to be used in the illegal guiding operation. Oregon State Marine Board records revealed that Aronson was not a registered hunting guide in the State of Oregon during the time of the unlawful activities and was operating on land he did not own and therefore was illegally guiding hunters without an outfitter/guide registration. From this investigation, 23 people have been charged for more than 200 counts filed in Wheeler County and 15 additional charges were filed in Deschutes County. Ten of those individuals pled guilty or no contest; and cases are pending adjudication for 13 other people.
It is Fort Dalles Rodeo time. The Rodeo will get off to an unofficial start tonight with the slack events this evening at Milt Tumilson Arena. That will feature the contestants who could not be fit into the regular performances, will start at 6 p.m., and is free to the public. The regular performances begin Thursday evening at 7:30 p.m., and as usual opening night is Family Night, with $35 family tickets available. The Rodeo continues Friday and Saturday nights. Advance tickets are available at The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce.
The Next Door Incorporated’s Nuestra Communidad Sana is putting together a Regional Health Equity Coalition in Hood River and Wasco counties. The organization received a three-year grant for the project from the Oregon Health Authority’s Office of Equity and Inclusion. Community Health Worker Yesenia Castro says the purpose is to work toward equality and access to care for all people, with a focus on those with low income and communities of color. Those interested in taking part can contact Castro at 541-436-0318.
A 20-year-old man has been arrested on numerous charges relating to a Sunday evening shooting incident at a migrant camp on Pheasant Ridge Road in Wasco County. Juan Carlos Navarro was arrested Tuesday by Wasco County Sheriff’s officers and lodged at NORCOR on fie counts of unlawful use of a weapon, two counts of Assault II, and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Navarro is being held on $260,000 bail. Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Lane Magill indicated they have not yet determined a motive for the shooting, which left a man wounded. The victim was treated at Mid-Columbia Medical Center and released. Members of the public who may have additional information related to this case are encouraged to call the Detective Sergeant Scott Williams at 541-506-2580.