Rainfall has calmed Eagle Creek fire, but not stopped growth

Fire crews pack up at the base camp in Odell, Oregon on Monday, Sept. 18, 2017. Officials say, due to the rain, fewer resources are needed to fight the Eagle Creek Fire. (KATU Photo)

Another day of rainfall Monday helped slow the Eagle Creek Fire burning in the Columbia River Gorge.

The fire started Sept. 2. Investigators suspect it was caused by a teenager who set off fireworks near the Eagle Creek Trailhead.

The rain was a welcome change to people living around the fire. Many had been evacuated as a result of the fast-moving blaze.

In Odell, the base camp for the fire, crews were packing up. Due to the rain, officials told KATU News fewer resources were needed to fight the fire.

Crews worked in the rain for most of the day strengthening the perimeter around the fire, said Dave Schmitz, a spokesman with the Eagle Creek Fire Incident Team.

"It's just a real mosaic. There's a lot of green trees out there. There's a lot of black trees out there," he said.

The rainfall can create dangerous conditions for fire crews, he said, like debris flows and mudslides. He said trees and rock fell onto Interstate 84 on Sunday.

"Firefighters were down along Bell Creek where there's some activity and then up on School Rock," Schmitz said.

Daniel Pearson, a fire behavior analyst, told KATU News the fire was moving much slower because of the rain.

"Some of the area that I was looking at (Monday), the one that was still showing a light flame, it moved four feet in six hours," Pearson said.

People can expect to see logs smolder for days. He said the outside of trees and logs will be wet, but the inside is still dry.

"There will be pockets of heat probably until snow flies," he said.

On Monday, the Hood River County Sheriff's Office downgraded evacuation levels within the Hood River Valley because of the current conditions.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off