Water quality at the Hood River Waterfront Park Beach is back to safe parameters. An E. Coli advisory at that location was lifted late Friday afternoon, and all signs with that advisory have been removed. Columbia Riverkeeper, which conducts weekly monitoring for bacterial contamination at five recreational sites in the Gorge, had reported E. Coli levels beyond federal water quality standards during the middle of last week. Tests do indicate E. Coli is in the water most of the year, so the Hood River County Public Health officials continue to urge people who frequent the park to use caution if entering the water. Children, the elderly, and people with immune deficiencies are most at risk of illnesses after exposure to contaminated water and should always avoid ingesting the water. None of the other recreational sites that are tested for water quality in the Gorge were affected by the advisory.
By a two to one vote, the Wasco County Commission has decided not to put a road district measure on the November ballot. Commissioner Scott Hege said the commission thought a rate of 2 dollars and one cent per thousand dollars of assessed value was just too high. Hege said the commission will keep looking for solutions because the problem won’t go away any time soon. He added the commssion may decide to put an advisory question on the district on the November ballot.
According to the Oregon State police, Thursday morning at about 7:30, a 1992 Chervrolet Blazer driven by a 59-year-old woman from Wamic was traveling northbound on Highway 197 when a 2005 Chevrolet pickup driven by 73-year-old Peter D. Kelly of The Dalles was westbound on Ward Road and turned in front of the Blazer. The SUV struck the pickup’s left side near milepost 8. After impact, the pickup came to rest off the side of the highway and the SUV came to rest in the southbound lane. The Blazer’s 72-year-old male front seat passenger was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver was transported by Life Flight to Oregon Health & Science University with serious injuries. The 17-year-old right rear passenger was taken by ground ambulance to Mid-Columbia Medical Center in The Dalles with non-life threatening injuries. All three were using safety restraints. Kelly was not injured. OSP Troopers are investigating and Kelly is cooperating with investigators.
The Westbound lanes of I-84 were closed for a while Wednesday morning because of a motorhome fire at MP72, east of Mosier. By Noon, one lane had been cleared and traffic is now moving again. No injuries were reported. There is no word on the condition of the motorhome.
The Wasco County Fair gets underway Thursday in Tygh Valley and runs through Sunday. According to Fair Board member Zach Harvey, they are celebrating a real milestone this year. This is the 100th County Fair held at Hunt Park in Tygh Valley. Gates open each day at 7am with the exhibit and commercial buildings open at 10am. Many 4-H events take place each morning. Thursday is Free Family Day – everyone gets in free courtesy of Mel’s Sanitation. The Senior Picnic is Thursday morning at 11:30….2015 Fair Queen Tryouts are at 3 and the 4-H Fashion Show and Senior Recognition are at 7. Friday events include Lego Robotics at 11….Farmer’s Fun Day at Noon and the Rodeo and Grand Entry is at 7:30. A dance with the group Brewer’s Grade runs from 9 until midnight. Saturday highlights include the Rodeo and Grand Entry, again at 7:30, then a dance with the group Jager Bumz finishes the day from 9 until midnight. Several big events are Sunday including the free breakfast, sponsored by Safeway from 6:30 to 9….the Youth Livestock Auction at 9:30 and the Demolition Derby at 1. OMSI returns to the fair this year and there are lots of other activities all 4 days.
Fire crews continued to make good progress on the Rowena Fire Monday. All evacuation levels have been lifted, so there are no active evacuations at this time. Highway 30 is now open.
Residents are reminded to remain alert for changing conditions and cautious of firefighting efforts.
For additional fire status information, call Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue at (541)296-9445. The Wasco County Sheriff’s Office Rowena Fire Hotline remains active at (541)506-2782.
The last numbers showed the fire at 68% containment and the area burned was at 3,680 acres
Evacuation notices have been conducted using the Citizen Alert Emergency Notification Program. Wasco County residents can register for Citizen Alert at www.co.wasco.or.us.
The National Weather Service has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch until 8:00 tonight (8/12) for parts of 10 Oregon counties, including Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam and Morrow. Washington counties include Skamania. In Washington it also includes Highway 14 between mile markers 40 and 62 and in Oregon on I-84 between mile markers 42 and 62. Frequent cloud to ground lightning is occurring with this storm. Lightning can strike 15 miles away from a thunderstorm. Seek a safe shelter inside a building or vehicle. The storm can include half inch hail and winds in excess of 40mph.
According to updated numbers, the Rowena Fire is now 68% contained and stands at 3,680 acres, up 7 acres from Sunday morning. That is due to a small spot fire that flared up Sunday afternoon in grass and scrub oak on McCall Point. It was quickly knocked down at approximately 7 acres by using water bucket drops from a helicopter, engines and crew personnel already on the fire. Following the helicopter drops, snags were felled and mop-up continued on the steep slopes above the homes along Highway 30. Infra-red cameras were used at night to locate remaining hot spots around McCall Point and around structures. Five Department of Corrections crews were utilized in the spot fire last night to further improve the line and mop-up.
The only areas still with evacuation level 1, which means be ready, are in the Rowena area from 5220 – 6464 on Highway 30. Most of Highway 30 is now open, except roadblocks will be placed in the area between 4877 and 5220 while crews are in the area. They will be removed by early evening.
According to fire officials, the remainder of the fire looks good, with crews close to meeting mop-up objectives. Today will see aggressive mop-up continuing on McCall Point and bucket drops continuing on the steep slopes. At last count there were402 personnel battling the fire, but barring unforeseen complications, that number will continue to go down. The public is still urged to be mindful of personal safety around the ongoing operations. Structural protection is now provided by Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue through the 911 system. Wildland resources remain on the fire for mop-up.
The Wasco County Evacuation Hotline is still open at (541)506-2792.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. It was earlier determined that the fire was NOT lightning-caused. Estimated cost of fighting the fire so far is over 3 and a half million dollars.
Fire danger remains high in the Northwest, with a possibility of thunderstorms continuing through most of the week in the region.
Oregon Department of Forestry
Incident Management Team 1
John Buckman, Incident Commander
Morning Information Update
August 10, 2014
Steady progress has been made to extinguish remaining hotspots and smokes in the Adeline Way, Simonelli Road, and Foley Lakes communities within 200-300 of homes and structures. Crews also continue with aggressive mop-up to secure the fireline.
A small section of Highway 30 will remain closed for the safety of the public and firefighters, as work is completed to fall remaining snags from steep slopes above the road. Rolling debris also remains a hazard in the area.
Structure protection is once again being provided by Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue through the 911 system.
Wildland resources remain on the fire for mop-up.
Evacuations / Road Closures
Evacuation levels remain at a Level I (Get Ready) for all residents living on Highway 30 West. Residents that choose to return home are again reminded to be cautious of ongoing firefighting efforts.
Roadblocks on a small portion of Highway 30 West remain in place with no through traffic on Highway 30 between the addresses of 4877 and 5220.
Residents living to the east of 4877 Highway 30, the intersection with Adeline Way, should access their homes via Interstate 84 exit 82. This includes Tooley Terrace, Adeline Way, and Simonellli Road.
Residents living to the west of 5220 Highway 30 should access their homes via Interstate 84 exit 76.
Safety tips and information for residents who are returning to their homes can be found here on the Oregon Fire Marshal’s website:http://www.oregon.gov/osp/SFM/docs/Comm_Ed/WUI/After_a_wildfire.pdf
Fire strategy for today
An infra-red flight is being conducted this morning with a helicopter to help with detection of remaining fire hot spots. Firefighters will continue to secure fireline and areas around homes and structures with a minimum 300 foot objective.
Crews will remove unnecessary hose lays and equipment. They will also remove berms and construct waterbars along bulldozer-constructed lines.
Increased traffic can still be expected in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The Rowena Fire may be an attraction for Portland metro area visitors who have followed its progress in the news for the past few days. Law enforcement reminds travelers on I-84 not to stop on the Interstate to view the fire or take pictures.
The public is urged to be mindful of personal safety around ongoing firefighting operations. Snag falling, aerial work with helicopters, and fire related traffic increase hazards in the area.
Size: 3,673 acres
Location: The Dalles, OR
Cause: Under Investigation
Estimated ODF/OSFM Cost: $3,205,216
Evacuations and Road Closures: Wasco County Sheriff Evacuation Hotline: 541-506-2792
Closures/Restrictions: Hwy 30 between The Dalles Country Club and Rowena
For More Information: Information phones are staffed 8:00 am to 8:00 pm
With residents back in their homes…structural fire engine crews at the Rowena Fire will begin to demobilize and return home this evening. The Oregon Department of Forestry…U.S. Forest Service…and Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue will remain to finish mop up operations. MCFR will patrol the perimeter of the fire from Foley Lakes to Tooley Terrace…with State Forestry and the U.S. Forest Service patrolling the remainder. With containment lines in place…incident commanders and the Wasco County Sheriff’s Office allowed all residents who had been under a Level 1 or Level 3 evacuation order back into their homes…with residents asked to be alert for changing conditions and cautious of firefighting efforts. If residents see smoke…flame…or other hot spots close to the edge…about a standard garden hose length of 50 feet…call the Wasco County non-emergency number at 541-296-5454. Fire containment is now at 55 percent…and firefighters will continue today to focus on removing unburned fuel and holding containment lines. Updates are issued on a Facebook page…Rowena Fire Oregon 2014…and the Twitter feed atrowenafire2014. Fire officials are asking recreational boaters and windsurfers to be vigilant of helicopters using the Columbia River to draw water for fighting the fire…and keep clear of aircraft in the area.