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Fire activity ‘limited’ despite dry week

Dicey weather didn’t outrage the Eagle Creek fire, which showed subdued activity as firefighters pressed on with repair efforts.

The fire, burning 48,831 acres Friday, remains about half-contained after blazing for nearly a month, according to reports by the multi-agency fire team.

An infrared flight Thursday revealed “limited” fire behavior, despite warm temperatures and low humidity. Smoke, however, kept drifting across Interstate 84. Suppression crews went out and mopped up remaining spot fires, cutting down on the smoke impact for drivers.

Interstate 84 is open in both directions between Hood River and Troutdale after extended closures.

A cold-front has arrived in the Gorge and rain that started sprinkling Friday is expected to spread across the fire. Rain and cooler temperatures are predicted to last throughout the weekend.

“While the arrival of rain is welcomed for fire suppression, it can complicate repair work and increase the potential for erosion,” staff with the fire team said in a Friday morning report.

In light of stronger fall storms that may rear up later this season, teams are assembling resources and working to meet repair objectives. Crews have made “exceptional progress” on that front.

On the whole, the team includes seven engines, a helicopter, other heavy ground gear, and 193 crew members. Gorge area contractors are also providing local knowledge to speed up operations.

A Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team assigned to Eagle Creek fire has been hard at work since arriving Sept. 25, assessing and calling for emergency stabilizing treatments for the areas that the fire has affected most.

The BAER team is digging into a “rapid assessment” of emergency rehabilitation needs that go beyond the suppression repair activities. On Thursday, the BAER team met with representatives of area management agencies to gather their input on public health, safety and resource protection concerns.

Indian Mountain served as a helicopter landing spot and lookout point during the Indian Creek fire and it’s also giving firefighters the highest visibility point for the Eagle Creek fire. (The two fires merged early on in the fire’s growth).

The fire has so far left a “mosaic” of scorched trees, while leaving some areas green, Lt. Damon Simmons with the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office said at press briefings earlier this month.

Trees are being sorted and staged for use, with those most suited being set aside for stream restoration work.

Due to the log removal effort and other projects in west Hood River County, people are cautioned to watch for truck traffic, particularly in the Binns Hill area near Post Canyon. Primary truck traffic routes are marked.

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