Crews making headway on Columbia Gorge wildfires

Fire officials say the cooler weather and less wind have helped efforts on both sides of the Columbia River.

Firefighters in Oregon are making slow progress on the Eagle Creek Fire, which is 7 percent contained and burning 33,382 acres of the Columbia River Gorge.

Nine hundred and eleven fire personnel are battling the blaze, which officials say was started by a 15-year-old Vancouver boy on Sept. 2.

Across the Columbia River in Washington state, a fire burning near Archer Mountain in Skamania County is now an estimated 209 acres, officials announced Friday morning.

About 82 firefighters with the Department of Natural Resources continue to work in the steep, rugged terrain to contain that fire.

While the blaze has grown in size, the wind is pushing it away from residences. The Skamania County Sheriff’s Office announced this morning further downgrades to its evacuation notifications.

The entirety of Archer Mountain Road has been reduced to Level 2 (be ready) evacuation level, along with Franz Road and Dim Rill Dale Road.

Officials believe an ember from the Eagle Creek Fire crossed the river early Tuesday morning and ignited a fire on the south side of Archer Mountain.

Fire officials say the cooler weather and less wind have helped efforts on both sides of the river, where many people have been evacuated from their homes.

Crews have established fire lines near Cascade Locks and Bridal Veil and continue to protect homes and structures in the areas closest to the fire. So far, officials report that three houses have been damaged and a small spot fire ignited near a cell tower early Thursday morning.

Temperatures have cooled and Lt. Damon Simmons of the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office says firefighters should make good progress if the weather cooperates.

Interstate 84 between Troutdale and Hood River remains closed. The Oregon Department of Transportation estimates that about 2,000 trees posing a safety hazard along the freeway must be felled before the road can reopen. The U.S. Coast Guard has reopened the Columbia River to nighttime passage of commercial boats, and Union Pacific trains have begun to move through the region.

Meanwhile, Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese said…

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