Fire crews working on the Eagle Creek Fire and other wildfires around the Northwest are definitely getting some help from the rain that’s moved into the region. The Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge remains at about 48,665 acres, and is now 46 percent contained. Fire officials say that between 3 and 5 inches of rain has fallen on the southwest corner of the fire, while about an inch fell on the east end of the fire, near Cascade Locks. While this rain is helping the fire crews, their work is not over. They say that it won’t take long for fuels to dry out again after this first rain; hot spots will also continue to smolder, even after several days of rain. I-84 eastbound remains closed between Troutdale and Hood River, and there’s still no timeline for when that portion of the freeway will re-open.
This morning’s danger in the Columbia River Gorge could be flash flooding. The Weather Service is out with a Flash Flood Warning in part of Hood River, Multnomah and Skamania counties, as strong rain bands move across the Portland area. They say that the path of these storm cells could cause significant runoff, mudslides, landslides and debris flows in the areas that have been burned by the Eagle Creek Fire. The warning ran from 4:25 to 5:30 this morning.
Campfire restrictions are being eased by the Washington Department of Natural Resources, Starting at 12:01 this morning. Campfires are now allowed in approved fire pits in designated campgrounds on lands protected by DNR. It’s emphasized that the forests and rangelands are still extremely dry, even after all of the rain that has fallen. They urge caution with fire and other heat sources; DNR officials also remind us that counties, cities and local fire districts may still have burn bans in force. You should check with your own local fire agency before lighting any fires. DNR officials also say that this move deals with campfires only; other forms of outdoor burning are still prohibited at this time.