The Owens Fire south of Hood River is now considered 65 percent contained, as firefighters work to get towards full containment by tonight. Fire public information officer Stan Hinatsu says the timber sale operator at the location the fire broke out is helping crews move the landing pile around to cool it off and get water on it. Hinatsu says the fire is 100 percent lined and plumbed, and crews are trying to do mop-up work 50 feet in from the line, and will go in 100 feet if it is safe to do so. Rolling debris has been a problem for firefighters. Hintasu noted crews will have to monitor the fire location all summer for possible flare-ups. Late Wednesday night the Oregon Department of Forestry decreased the amount of acreage burned by the fire from 50 to 12.
Test results of water from Mill Creek this week came back with substantially diminished levels of E. Coli. That’s after the City did a $40,000 emergency repair of a cracked sewer main on Wright Street that helped wind down a two-year search for the source of a pipe that was dumping E. Coli into the creek. The latest test showed 387 E. Coli organisms per 100 milliliters of water, way down from the over 2,400 over the last two years, and out of the federal designation of an acute level. City officials will do more testing, with the current reading still over the federal definition of a chronic level of E. Coli, which is 126. Dropping to zero is not realistic as Mill Creek has several sources of E. Coli, including wild animals. Also still unknown: the origin of the pipe itself.
A fire Tuesday night in The Dalles destroyed a two-story house that had been seriously damaged by fire in December 2010. Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue District Chief Bob Palmer says the nearly 150 year old house at 402 West 4th Street was unoccupied as a result. Law enforcement officers had initially arrived to find a small fire inside one of the rooms of the structure, but by the time fire crews arrived the blaze had grown substantially. Strong winds blew embers that ignited several spot fires in dry fuels, shrubbery, and the roof of a house a block away from the fire. Palmer says that fire was put out it before it spread into the structure itself. Dallesport, Wy’east, Dufur, and Hood River fire departments provided aid to MCFR. Palmer said an investigation into the cause of the fire is underway.
Hood River County Commissioners have decided to proceed with hiring a codes enforcement officer. It’s part of an effort by the County to be more pro-active in dealing with code violations, rather than waiting for citizen complaints. County Administrator David Meriwether says most of the initial focus will be on land-use issues, starting with a list of complaints the County has received and not yet addressed. Meriwether says there will be an emphasis on education on what the codes are, and helping people come into compliance.
Hood River attorney Karen Ostrye has been tabbed to fill the Seventh Judicial District’s Circuit Court Judge vacancy created by the retirement of Paul Crowley. Ostrye will take her seat on the bench July 1, and will have to run in the November election to retain the position. Ostrye has been in private practice her entire career, first as an associate and then becoming a partner in a Hood River law firm. With extensive litigation experience, Ostrye has handled cases in areas such as family law, juvenile delinquency and dependency, and employment law.
Concrete work on the approaches to the Hood River Interstate Bridge will take place beginning July 6, and that will bring the need for flaggers and one-way travel on weekdays for about a month. Port of Hood River Commissioner Rich McBride concedes this is not the ideal time to have bridge delays, but the project is one that is needed and Commissioners did not want to wait any longer to proceed, especially with harvest season coming. The majority of work will take place on the Washington side of the bridge. McBride noted the goal is to keep delays on the bridge down to 10 minutes.
Power was restored to the western portion of Klickitat County, most of Skamania County, and Camas and Washougal at 6:30 p.m. after a major outage lasted for about an hour-and-a-half. Klickitat PUD says the outage was on the Bonneville Power Administration transmission line, but no exact cause has been announced at this time . The outage began at 4:55 p.m. Klickitat PUD is asking anyone whose power has not yet been restored to call them at 1-800-548-8357.
It appears the Port of Hood River will receive a $450,000 grant from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department for construction of a trail along the west edge of the Nichols Basin. Port Commissioner Rich McBride says an advisory committee put the project fourth on a statewide list to receive funding, noting it is still subject to approval from the full parks department commission. The Port already has a $125,000 grant for the project, and McBride says they are seeking another grant in the vicinity of $375,000 He adds the state parks grant will allow more grading work from the high water mark, some landscaping, and adding retaining walls.
Cherry harvest is underway in the Mid-Columbia, starting last week with Chelans, and the early bing cherries will start to be picked in a couple of days. Oregon State University extension agent Lynn Long says crop size appears to be very good, and he expects a 40,000-ton crop in Wasco County alone. What that means for market prices is always a concern, but Long thinks the crop should sell well. Cool temperatures in the past few days has slowed ripening, which Long says will create longer spacing between varieties. He added they have been fortunate to have no rain in the past few days, and clear skies are forecast in the middle part of the week.
A contingent from Hood River’s sister city, Tsuruta, Japan, arrives in Hood River on Tuesday afternoon. This visit will feature the Tsuruta Mayor Kenji Nakano, who is making his final visit as mayor. He is leaving that position after 40 years. Nakano and the Tsuruta contingent will arrive in Hood River Tuesday afternoon and will stay until Friday. A no-host cocktail hour will take place at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Columbia Gorge Hotel, followed by a dinner at 6:30 p.m. for which limited tickets remain available, e-mail email@example.com. Wednesday will feature a community ceremony at Children’s Park at 10:30 a.m., where a tree will be planted in Nakano’s honor in the cherry grove the Tsuruta group planted two years ago. They will fly home on Friday.