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Gov. Brown tours Cascade Locks: 'This has been a devastating fire'

Back burn near Cascade Locks - Crews are working to contain the Eagle Creek Fire, a human-caused fire burning thousands of acres in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge and threatening several natural landmarks. (Photo taken by Chris Liedle on September 10, 2017)

Governor Kate Brown toured several Gorge businesses Friday ahead of the weekend's "Kick Ash" fundraiser.

Most of Cascade Locks was under some kind of evacuation order for weeks during the Eagle Creek fire, during what would have been a busy tourist season.

"I know that this is been a very devastating fire for the community, for the families impacted and certainly for the businesses. So we're trying to get a clear sense of what they need and how we can help in recovery," Gov. Brown said.

Brown met with business owners in Cascade Locks, bringing along with her several state agency leaders. The governor announced she is forming a state recovery council to help employees and businesses in the Gorge.

"I liken this to bringing the state capital to your community," she said.

Some local businesses were forced to layoff employees.

Jill Buck, the vice president of the Multnomah Falls Company which runs Multnomah Lodge, told KATU about 100 employees have been out of work. She said several have had to apply for unemployment because they haven't been able to received a paycheck.

"I continue to tell them we don't know the reopening date," Buck said.

At the meeting, she said Gov. Brown told her employees would continue to receive unemployment assistance.

"I know that this is been a very devastating fire for the community, for the families impacted and certainly for the businesses. So we're trying to get a clear sense of what they need and how we can help in recovery," Gov. Brown said.

After touring Cascade Locks, Gov. Brown made her way east to Hood River.

"Folks are telling me (they have had) anywhere from 40 to a 70 percent drop in business right now. We want to make sure that we keep this region thriving and make sure the small businesses recover as quickly as possible," she said.

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