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'Many of these trees should survive, keeping the Gorge green': Eagle Creek Fire update

Helicopters get water from the Columbia River to assist firefighters (Photo via inciweb).

UPDATED Saturday, Sept. 9 at 3:00 PM.

A flight over the Eagle Creek Fire on Saturday morning found that the fire had moved further east than previously observed.

The fire is currently burning 33,682 acres and is seven percent contained. There are 12 helicopters and 987 firefighters battling the blaze.

The Hood River County Sheriff's Office has changed the evacuation levels for part of the county west of Hood River, with the Level 2 evacuation east of Cascade Locks extending to include Wyeth.

Some areas were also established under a Level 1 Evacuation notice.

Click here for a detailed look at the evacuation notices as well as maps.

On Friday, several burnout operations near Cascade Locks created large quantities of of smoke, but greatly reduced the danger of the fire's northern progression.

Helicopters getting water from the Columbia River also helped assist crews working to contain the Archer Mountain Fire on the Washington side of the Gorge.

Gusty winds from the west forced the majority of the smoke out of the east end of the Columbia River Gorge, giving residents in the Cascade Locks area clearer air.

The clean air gave a view of the mosaic of burned areas on the slopes affected by the Eagle Creek Fire. Some areas contain trees with brown needles or portions of slopes where crown fires consumed most of the foliage and branches from trees.

Other areas within the fire perimeter have green trees, some of which may later die from damage to their roots. However, many of these trees should survive keeping the gorge green.

Weather conditions are expected to be favorable for firefighting activities Saturday, with lower temperatures, higher humidity and lighter winds. 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 in the area.

Click here for full forecast

While Saturday's weather is giving firefighters a bit of breathing room, conditions in upcoming days will revert to drier, windier conditions.

Preparations are underway for a strategic burnout to protect the community of Corbett on the fire's western edge.

Officials say their efforts are aimed at restoring normal activities along the Columbia River and the I-84/Highway 30 corridor.

Watch Saturday's news conference on the fire with state and local officials below:

Watch Gov. Brown, state leaders, US Forest Service talk about Eagle Creek Fire below:



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