Eagle Creek Fire only grows 3 acres in 24 hours

More than 900 firefighters are working to contain the Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge, which broke out September 2 and is believed to have been started by a 15-year-old with fireworks. (Photo courtesy Multnomah County Communications taken 9-11-2017)

CASCADE LOCKS, Ore. – Fire officials say the Eagle Creek Fire only grew three acres overnight, thanks to as much as six inches of rain that fell since Sunday.

The fire is currently listed as 46 percent contained, now measuring 48,668 acres.

Since Sunday, officials say one to three inches of rain fell on the fire in lower elevations, and three to six inches fell on the upper elevations.

Most of the fire is now smoldering, except for the northeast corner where the fire continues to spread slowly. Fire officials say you can expect to continue to see some smoke from the fire. Wednesday, crews will continue to patrol and mop up hot spots along the perimeter.

Rain proved to be welcome relief for firefighters. Hundreds of firefighters have since been able to go home. The fire camp at Hood River County Fairgrounds was broken down on Tuesday, downsized, and moved to a new location in Cascade Locks outside the Best Western Columbia River Inn. About 1,000 peopled worked the Eagle Creek Fire at one point within the past week; now, just 243 personnel are assigned.

Wet conditions are also affecting how firefighters are working the Eagle Creek Fire. Officials say firefighters are being kept out of flood or landslide prone areas and fire suppression has slowed down significantly.

"The roads they need to get access to out there are fairly impassable right now with the moisture that we've got. So they are patrolling the I-84 corridor, and they are still out there with a presence and from a safety standpoint, but suppression efforts are pretty slow right now," said Craig Glazier, the new incident commander for the Eagle Creek Fire.

Glazier says they are looking forward to changing their focus on the fire from suppression efforts, to rehabilitation and restoration of areas affected by firefighters.

"[The rain] helped a lot. It certainly slowed it down, and that might be the best way to look at it. It was a season-slowing event; it was not a season-ending event. It will make our job a lot easier, and it will allow us to transition into rehab work," said Glazier.

While the rain is good news, so is the fact that only two firefighters have reported injuries while fighting the Eagle Creek Fire. Both are minor. Glazier says that is phenomenal considering the size and duration of the fire.

Soil and hydrology specialists with the Oregon Department of Transportation have been surveying areas along the Interstate 84 corridor.

Westbound I-84 remains open, but officials ask the public to drive slowly through the fire area and to stay out of closed areas.

There is still an increased risk for falling trees, falling rocks and debris slides within the fire area.

Specialists say no ash from the fire has been detected in the Bull Run Watershed. The fire only burned a small section in the northeast corner of the watershed management area.

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