Mop-up work is underway on a fire that burned 95 acres outside of Tygh Valley late Thursday afternoon. David Jacobs of the Oregon Department of Forestry The Dalles Unit says crews got a line around the fire late last night, assisted by air drops, and it is 100 percent contained. Much of the fire burned in grass, but about 20 to 30 acres was in scrub oak and brush, and Jacobs says that is where the mop-up work is taking place. There were eight engines with a 20-person crew on the scene to do the mop-up work. Jacobs says the fire was human-caused, but did not elaborate further. ODF, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Wamic, Tygh Valley, and Juniper Flat crews took part in the firefighting effort.
The Cougar Creek Fire north of Glenwood grew by 700 acres on Thursday to 24,600, and remains at 20 percent containment. Strong winds have move through the fire area for the last two days. Crews held established control lines along the south and east flanks of the fire. There has been minimal spotting due to the wind, and crews were able to hold the fire within its perimeter. Burnout operations assisted in securing fire line around the fire contributing to the increase in reported fire size. Winds helped firefighters on the northeast flank of the fire by pushing the fire back toward the interior. Gusty winds increased fire activity on the west flank of the fire. Crews were successful in completing line construction to Hellroaring Creek on the northwest portion of the fire line. A National Weather Service Red Flag Warning remains in effect until Friday at 11:00 p.m. Residents of Glenwood north of Ladiges Road remain under a Level 1 evacuation advisory from the Klickitat County Sheriff’s Office, advising residents to be alert of the fire’s activity.
Containment of the County Line 2 Fire on the Warm Springs Reservation is up to 55 percent. That fire has burned 64,450 acres. Fire managers report strong wind gusts up to 35 miles per hour are making holding containment lines difficult. Red Flag Warning conditions are expected to persist through Friday night. The cause of the fire reported ten days ago remains under investigation. Containment is projected for Wednesday.
The North Central Public Health District says a pertussis outbreak in Wasco County is over, but with a new school year about to begin it’s important to take steps to stop the spread of the disease. There were a total of 29 cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, reported to health district officials during the outbreak. The district says up to date immunizations are the most important thing people can do to stop pertussis. T-dap vaccine is available from physicians and pharmacies. Also, stay away from infants, pregnant women, and those with a weakened immune system if you are not feeling 100 percent healthy, especially if you suspect you may have pertussis.
As area pear growers begin one of their earliest harvests on record next week, the Port of Hood River will delay planned deck welding maintenance work on the Hood River Interstate Bridge to accommodate hauling needs. The Port is cancelling single lane closures that were planned for next week. There will be brief closures of toll house lanes early next Friday (August 28) between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. for equipment inspections that cannot be rescheduled. Flaggers will be on site to direct traffic through the toll lanes, minimal delays are expected. Maintenance welding on the bridge deck is done annually, usually in August. The work must be performed during dry weather, so the Port will reschedule lane closures in September.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has restricted boat access at the The Dalles Dam downstream navigation approach channel to lock users only. The Dalles Lock and Dam operations manager Ron Twiner says the restriction was necessary to ensure public safety due to the river current and the lock’s proximity to the dam. Its purpose is to keep as much distance as possible between river traffic and small boats near the lock’s approach, which is a constrained area. In addition to the danger of collision, large vessels can displace water and currents can rapidly change as the navigation lock cycles water through the structure, causing another potentially dangerous condition.
Wasco County Commissioners are planning to hold public hearings to learn if County residents want to vote to opt-out of legalizing recreational marijuana. Under provisions adopted by the Oregon Legislature, cities and counties are eligible to opt out of Measure 91. Those cities and counties where voters said no by a margin of at least 55 percent in the November 2014 election can opt out by its governing body simply adopting an ordinance, but Wasco County’s disapproval rate was only 52 percent, so such a move would have to be placed on November 2016 ballot. Commissioner Scott Hege said most of the concerns Wasco County officials have received revolve around the production of marijuana rather than retail outlets. Hege noted smell, water, fire, and security concerns have all been brought up. One hearing is planned for mid-September during a scheduled town hall in Dufur. In other business, Hege and fellow Commissioner Steve Kramer swapped committee assignments, with Hege moving to the North Central Public Health District board and Kramer to the Mid-Columbia Council of Governments panel.
Anticipating the arrival of a gusty cold front Wednesday, Cougar Creek Fire crews will continue to reinforce the fire lines along the west and south flanks and to burn out fuel on the east flank. The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning beginning Wednesday afternoon through Friday, with strong winds combined with low relative humidity and high temperatures mixing to increase fire activity. Beginning Wednesday afternoon, winds are expected to gust up to 35 miles per hour and last through Thursday evening. Crews will pay special attention to look out for wind-driven spotting fires outside the line. Contingency structure protection plans have been developed in the unlikely event wind pushes the fire beyond its current boundaries. In its ninth day Tuesday, the fire increased 500 acres to a total of 23,100 acres. Crews have contained 20 percent of the fire line. The increased size was from burnout work. Residents of Glenwood north of Ladiges Road remain under a Level 1 evacuation advisory from the Klickitat County Sheriff’s Office, advising residents to be alert of the fire’s activity.
Containment of the County Line 2 Fire on the Warm Springs Reservation is up to 43 percent. That fire has burned 62,000 acres. Fire managers and Warm Springs tribal representatives have decided the threat to structures has been reduced to the point that a structural protection team was released from the fire scene Wednesday morning. Fire managers say about 300 homes were saved from destruction in the fire storm that occurred at the beginning of the fire thanks to quick response and coordination between wildland and structural firefighters. Crews are continuing to strengthen and construct containment lines. The fire will receive two Type II initial attack crews Wednesday, with Red Flag Warning conditions anticipated through Friday. That means the potential for critical fire behavior with possible erratic winds. The cause of the fire reported last Wednesday afternoon remains under investigation.
The White Salmon Valley School District is getting ready for the start of classes on September 1. After experiencing a large enrollment bump two years ago, District Superintendent Jerry Lewis says they are anticipating fairly stable numbers this year. Lewis notes they are watching the enrollment trends closely with a changing population base in the district. He noted the growth of Insitu and other high-tech industry in the White Salmon area was a big factor in the numbers jump two years ago. Lewis adds the district this year qualified for state funding of full-day kindergarten.