Fire hovers above The Dalles


The Dalles Chronicle

Strong westerly winds blew the Sheldon Ridge Fire eastward Thursday afternoon, closer to The Dalles and increasing in size from an initial 200 acres to 5,180 acres overnight, said Mike Ferris, a fire information officer from the USDA Forest Service.

A thick, towering plume of brown smoke hovered over the skies south of The Dalles Thursday night, and fire officials advised evacuation of several hundred homes along Brown’s Creek Road, Wells Road, upper Cherry Heights and Mill Creek Road between the 4500 and 6500 blocks.

Governor John Kitzhaber has declared Sheldon Ridge the highest priority of any current blaze in the state due to its fast-moving nature and close proximity to structures, Ferris said.

“The combination of low humidity, strong winds and dry terrain is a recipe for fire spread,” Ferris said, noting that none of the blaze has been contained.

“Everyone’s concerned about the predicted winds for today,” he said.

Ferris said the 346 firefighters currently on the scene will focus on protecting the approximately 200 residences and 420 outbuildings threatened by the fire and preventing the blaze from crossing Mill Creek Road. As of Friday morning officials had assigned 111 fire engines, six bulldozers and four helicopters to crews fighting the fire. Although no residences have burned, several outbuildings were destroyed by the blaze, said Beth Kirschhofer, a public information officer from the USDA Forest Service.

More equipment is en route. The fire was ignited by lightning Tuesday and burned rapidly over Government Flat Thursday afternoon and evening.

It blazed through open, grassy slopes and scrub oak toward Upper Cherry Heights and Brown’s Creek Road, before crossing Brown’s Creek Road and continuing over the hill into the Mill Creek drainage.

Additional firefighting resources from around the state were to arrive Friday, even though fires are burning throughout Oregon, said Dave Wells, a public information officer from the State Forestry Department.

“These firefighters are doing a big thing by keeping this fire out of The Dalles,” he said. “I think it’s as big nationally as the Colorado fire approaching Denver.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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