Teenager accused of starting Eagle Creek Fire likely to get probation

The fire burned over 48,000 acres in Columbia River Gorge in September, 2017

Above:  Photo of the Eagle Creek Fire posted September 5, 2017.

(Originally published at 12:53 p.m. MT February 10, 2018)

February 16 is the sentencing date for the boy who was 15 years old when he allegedly started the Eagle Creek Fire near the Washington/Oregon border in the Columbia River Gorge. A witness reported seeing the Vancouver juvenile throw a “smoke bomb” into vegetation near the Eagle Creek trail on September 2, 2017. In less than 24 hours the fire grew to 3,000 acres and to 20,000 acres by the morning of September 5.

Eventually burning 48,831 acres, it required the extended closure of Interstate 84, forced hundreds to evacuate, and poured smoke into Portland.

Eagle Creek Fire
A view across the Eagle Creek suspension bridge after a support cable pulled free during or after the fire. The bridge and cables hang near the stream. It will probably be removed before it causes more resource damage.

Because the boy is a juvenile, Oregon Live reports, the options for sentencing include years of probation, probably less than eight days of detention, or about a year in a juvenile correctional facility.

If the judge requires restitution for the costs of suppressing and rehabbing the fire, which are reportedly more than $18 million, the boy will likely only be able to pay a small fraction of the total.

Eagle Creek Fire
The Oneonta Tunnel burned during the Eagle Creek Fire. Rocks are falling from the burned slopes above onto Hwy. 30 and the trail, creating a hazard that will grow worse with winter rains.
Eagle Creek Fire
There is some fire damage near the Multnomah Falls, but the main falls area was mostly spared. Rocks falling in the vicinity of the falls and lodge are concerns.

Articles on Wildfire Today tagged “Eagle Creek Fire”.

(All photos are from InciWeb)

Update on Eagle Creek Fire in Columbia River Gorge

Eagle Creek Fire Columbia River Gorge Oregon

According to the Incident Management Team, the Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge on the Oregon/Washington border is nowhere near contained — they are calling it 46 percent.

The fire started on the south side of the river September 2, allegedly by a teenager playing with fireworks, and grew rapidly on September 5, spotting across the river into Washington near Archer Mountain.

Cooler temperatures and higher humidity levels helped slow fire growth over last week or so, and as of September 23rd, it is 48,668 acres.

These excellent photos were taken by the Incident Management Team this weekend. They show vast areas of burned trees but also large swaths of green canopy.

Eagle Creek Fire Columbia River Gorge Oregon Eagle Creek Fire Columbia River Gorge Oregon Eagle Creek Fire Columbia River Gorge Oregon


Clouds and high humidity affect Eagle Creek fire in Columbia River Gorge

Mapping flights the last two days were cancelled due to low clouds.

helicopter eagle creek fire columbia river
A helicopter carries water from the Columbia River to the Eagle Creek Fire September 8, 2017. Inciweb photo.

The growth of the Eagle Creek wildfire burning along the Columbia River in northern Oregon 11 miles northeast of Gresham has slowed during the last two days due to cooler and more humid weather. On Friday the relative humidity at Cascade Locks never got below 64 percent. A couple of weather stations just south of the fire recorded small amounts of rain early Saturday morning.

The forecast for calls for a 17 to 30 percent chance of showers through Saturday night, but warmer and drier conditions will prevail Sunday through Tuesday.

Strong winds out of the west at 15 gusting to 25 mph are expected Saturday, but the humidity will remain above 90 percent.

The information below is from the Incident Management Team at about 11 a.m. PDT September 9:

Winds shifted Friday, blowing predominantly upriver out of the west and increasing fire activity to the east. Two new Level 1 (Ready) Evacuation Notices were issued by the Hood River Sheriff’s Department for portions of Hood River County on Friday afternoon.

Firefighters performed a strategic burnout near Cascade Locks to protected endangered residential and commercial structures. They continued to work along Interstate 84 and Hwy 30 using heavy equipment to strengthen firelines and protect structures, avoiding sensitive areas like fish hatcheries. Helicopters were dipping water out of the Columbia River to assist firefighters working south of the Interstate. Helicopters also provided assistance to crews working to contain the Archer Fire in Washington. Overnight, Oregon State Fire Marshall (OSFM) structure protection crews continued to mop up along I-84 and in Corbett while burnout operations were held on the east end. Due to increased moisture in the air and no substantial wind, the fire perimeter remained mostly unchanged overnight.

Weather conditions are expected to be favorable for firefighting activities today with lower temperatures, higher humidity and lighter winds. Activities today will emphasize protecting structures along Interstate 84 and Hwy 30.

OSFM crews will continue to support burnout operations. They will be completing patrols to extinguish hot spots to the east and maintain containment lines in Cascade Locks. All aircraft are available for use today. Firefighters will be scouting on the eastern side of the fire in Hood River County for natural barriers like roads and trails to create a line of defense for homes the in that area. Preparations are underway for a strategic burnout to protect the community of Corbett on the fire’s western edge, however that burnout may be delayed due to the moist conditions expected today. All firefighting efforts are aimed at restoring normal activities along the Columbia River and the Interstate 84/Hwy 30 corridor.

While today’s weather is giving firefighters a bit of breathing room, conditions in upcoming days will revert to drier, windier conditions. As always firefighter and public safety are the primary objective while fighting the Eagle Creek Fire.

Resources Assigned: 4 Type 1 (Hotshot) crews, 11 Type 2 crews and 5 Type 2 Initial Attack Crews; 104 Engines; 12 helicopters; 987 Personnel

Eagle Creek Fire in Columbia River Gorge slows, but still adds over 2,000 acres

The fire has burned 33,382 acres, which includes a 209-acre spot fire across the Columbia River in Washington.

On the map above, the red line was the perimeter of the Eagle Creek Fire at 2:15 a.m. PDT September 7, 2017. The white line was the perimeter about 24 hours before.

(Originally published at 9:06 am PDT September 7, 2017)

The Eagle Creek Fire that is believed to have been started by a teenager playing with fireworks, continued to spread Wednesday but more slowly than in previous days, adding another 2,453 acres mostly on the south and northeast sides. The spot fire across the Columbia River in Washington has expanded to 209 acres.

The main fire is 11 miles east of Gresham.

Interstate 84 is still closed. The Oregon Department of Transportation said Wednesday that there are nearly 2,000 trees that are in danger of falling into the highway.

Snow plows are being used to push fallen trees off the Historic Columbia River Highway, which is also closed “for an undetermined amount of time”, the DOT said.

The weather forecast indicates that the air quality should improve in the Portland area over the next few days. The prediction is for a “moderate” Air Quality Index for Thursday and Friday of this week. The forecast also calls for a chance of rain off and on over the next couple of days.

Air Quality Index Oregon Washington
Air Quality Index for Oregon and Washington 7 a.m. PDT, September 7, 2017.
map Eagle Creek fire
3-D map of the Eagle Creek Fire. The red line was the perimeter at 2:15 a.m. PDT September 7, 2017. The white line was the perimeter about 24 hours before.

Eagle Creek fire burns structures and forces evacuations along the Columbia River Gorge

Above: 3-D map of the Eagle Creek Fire looking southeast, showing the perimeter at 7:30 p.m. PDT September 5, 2017.

(Originally published at 12:22 p.m. PDT, September 6, 2017)

The Eagle Creek Fire that has been burning since September 2 along the Columbia River Gorge just west of Cascade Locks on the Washington/Oregon border has merged with the nearby Indian Creek Fire, which together have blackened 30,929 acres. The blaze is about 10 miles east of the Portland suburbs.

Most of the fire is on the south side of the river in Oregon, but it has jumped across the river into Washington near Archer Mountain.

Six structures have burned and there is a report that at least one of them is a residence, with the others being outbuildings.

Eagle Creek Fire
Firefighters protect the Multnomah Lodge at the Eagle Creek Fire, September 5, 2017. Inciweb.

Several communities are under evacuation orders and a shelter has been established at Mt. Hood Community College, at 3691 NE 17th Drive, Gresham, OR. For information regarding evacuations in Skamania County, contact the Skamania County Emergency Operations Center at 509-427-8076.

Firefighters will be conducting burnout operations on September 6th from Bridge of the Gods to Bonneville Dam. There will be large plumes of smoke visible during the day.

 map Eagle Creek Fire
Map of the Eagle Creek Fire showing the perimeter at 7:30 p.m. PDT September 5, 2017.

Willamette Week reported that a Portland resident saw a teenage boy using fireworks that may have started the fire. On September 5 the Oregon State Police announced that a 15-year old boy from Vancouver, Washington is a suspect.

Continue reading “Eagle Creek fire burns structures and forces evacuations along the Columbia River Gorge”