ODOT crews work to clear trees from Interstate 84
TROUTDALE, Ore. —
Parts of Interstate 84 looked much different Friday, as firefighters were swapped out with tree fellers.
“We are now in the process of looking at how we can move forward and reopening the freeway,” Ryan Windsheimer, with the Oregon Department of Transportation, said.
In order to reopen I-84, the Oregon Department of Transportation says at least 2,000 trees need to go.
“We are evaluating the trees; we are marking the trees,” Windsheimer said.
Many of the trees along I-84 are blackened and burned, some broken lying on their sides.
“There are thousands of trees still burning along the highway that could fall into the highway,” Windsheimer said.
With the Eagle Creek Fire only 7 percent contained, ODOT officials say it could be some time before the interstate is reopened.
But the good news is the structure of the interstate is still in good condition.
“We've had inspectors in. They have been out evaluating the bridges and the tunnels and other structures. I’m pleased to report most reports are in and we haven't seen significant damage,” Windsheimer said.
On Friday, cooler temperatures and less smoke made for better firefighting conditions. But some increased fire activity was reported by the Hood River County Sheriff's Office, prompting it to expand some evacuation orders. Full details can be found here.
"We were able to do bucket drops directly behind Cascade Locks using helicopter dipping in the Columbia and putting out hot spots,” Teri Weaver, fire communication specialist, said.
ODOT does not have a timeline to get I-84 reopened but does say it is a top priority.