ODOT: 2,000 trees scorched by Eagle Creek Fire could fall on I-84

Local and state officials had their first look at the damage left behind from the Eagle Creek Fire Wednesday, September 6, 2017. The fire is burning in the Columbia River Gorge. Photo courtesy Multnomah County Communications

CASCADE LOCKS, Ore. – ODOT says as many as 2,000 trees could fall on Interstate 84 as a result of the Eagle Creek Fire.

I-84 remains closed Thursday from Troutdale to Hood River. With the threat of thousands of trees falling, ODOT says they don’t know when they can reopen the roadway.

Two thousand fallen trees might seem like the entire forest is damaged, but experts say this isn’t a “scorched Earth” scenario.

They say the patchiness of the Eagle Creek Fire is helping lessen the environmental impact, so the area can bounce back.

Just take a look at recent photos from Multnomah Falls:

Notice how there are still patches of green around it?

“It's not burning continuously. What we've heard so far is it's not like a scorched earth type of apocalyptic where it's burned. It's really been in patches,” said Michael Lang from Friends of the Columbia River Gorge. “I don't want to call it good, but it's not as bad it could be. And it makes it easier for the forest to restore itself.”

Lang said it will likely be weeks before all the damage can be assessed.

He said it’s too early to determine when the trails will reopen.

Once the Department of Forestry has assessed the damage, environmental groups will organize and get boots on the ground to help restore the area.

Until then, they’re focused on helping the hundreds of people forced out of their homes.

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