Eagle Creek Fire continues to burn, spreads over 32,000+ acres

Courtesy Hannah Walters

Updated with latest information as of 11:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017

CASCADE LOCKS, Ore. (KATU) – The Eagle Creek Fire continues to burn Wednesday, closing Interstate 84, causing evacuations for hundreds of people and putting many loved areas of the Gorge at risk.

The fire grew to more than 30,000 acres Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, having combined with the nearby Indian Creek Fire to the south.

Level 3 GO! evacuations remain for Cascade Locks, Warrendale, Dodson, Larch Mountain, Latourell, Bridal Veil and Corbett (east of 38700 block of Columbia River Highway). Approximately 220 people have sought shelter assistance.

Portland Police officers have been patrolling Level 3 evacuation areas for possible looting.

Crews worked to build fire lines near Cascade Locks and Bridal Veil on Wednesday. It was 5 percent contained by the end of the day. Over 900 people are involved in fighting the fire. The blaze has burned about 1,500 to 2,000 trees, which are at risk of falling on I-84, which remains closed.

Residents in Cascade Locks should expect even more smoke this week as firefighters conduct burn operations in the area to combat the wildfire. The fire burned at “moderate intensity” overnight Tuesday as the winds shifted to come from the west instead of the east.

The fire has destroyed one home and a handful of outhouses. No specific location has been released.

Many well-loved nature spots in the Gorge are at risk, but some good news came Wednesday during a media tour. Multnomah Falls and the nearby lodge were spared from damage. KATU News has also confirmed that Bridal Veil Lakes, a popular wedding venue, hasn't been damaged.

Update on the Suspect

At a press conference early Wednesday, Lt. Bill Fugate from Oregon State Police spoke about the 15-year-old boy from Vancouver who is suspected of starting the wildfire.

He said no charges have been pressed against the teenager yet. He plans to conduct a thorough investigation of the fire and will refer the case to district attorneys.

The district attorney will be the one to decide whether or not to pursue the case in juvenile court.

He asked anyone with information about the suspect in custody, or other suspects, to contact Oregon State Police.

Fugate said investigators are very confident they have identified the correct suspects in the case. He also said the boy and his parents are cooperating.

Red Cross Shelters

The American Red Cross is currently helping 225 people affected by the Eagle Creek Fire.

Anyone who’s evacuated their homes is welcome at their shelters.

The Red Cross thanked the community for their support. They said they don’t need any items donated. If people want to give, they can donate financially and write checks to the American Red Cross.

She assured everyone that the Red Cross will provide basic needs for evacuees.

The Red Cross said they’re planning ahead in case they need to move locations.

Air Quality Concerns

Dr. Jennifer Vines, a Multnomah County health officer, said young children, the elderly, and people with chronic heart and lung disease should still be concerned about the poor air quality.

She recommend people at risk use masks to filter ash particles. She also said it’s best to stay inside, ideally in an air-conditioned building.

She also said avoid exercising outdoors.

Protecting the Columbia River Gorge

To conclude the press conference, Multnomah County Commissioner Lori Stegmann reassured the public that Gresham firefighters are protecting the lodge at Multnomah Falls.

She also comforted the public by saying the Gorge is not scorched and blackened by the fire.

“There still is a lot of natural beauty left standing,” she said.

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