Sheldon Ridge fire contained

More than 12,000 acres burn near The Dalles, evacuated residents return home

Story courtesy of The Dalles Chronicle

The 12,200-acre Sheldon Ridge Fire, in Wasco County between The Dalles and Mosier, is now 70 percent contained, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry.

On Monday night, officials lifted evacuation orders on the fire, allowing residents of Wells Road, Brown’s Creek and Upper Chenowith to return home for the first time since Thursday night. More than 700 firefighters remain on the fire.

Operations resumed at The Dalles’ water treatment plant last night, after being shut down Friday. The system is in full operation and service has been restored to Mill Creek Road residents.

But 45 mile-per-hour winds forecast Tuesday still challenged the operation, and firefighters prepared to defend the 80 percent containment level they’d achieved by Monday night. “It’s great windsurfing, but tough on firefighters,” said Stan Hinatsu of the U.S. Forest Service, a spokesman on the Sheldon Ridge Fire. “We’re cautiously optimistic of reaching our containment goal of 6 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday) night,” Hinatsu said. “That’s what we’re shooting for.”

Most of the fire is now “lined,” either by hand trail, bulldozer or existing barriers such as roads. But strong winds yesterday pushed the fire beyond those boundaries in several isolated locations, Hinatsu said. Fortunately, the continued presence of a large firefighting force — 20 crews of 20 individuals each, 37 engines, eight bulldozers and eight aircraft as of this morning — quickly beat down those encroachments.

“No fire is fully contained until we’re confident it won’t jump the lines,” Hinatsu said, warning the threat still continued today. “If we get through today with those kinds of winds without any slopover, we’ve done pretty well.” The fire’s estimated acreage increased yesterday by 600 acres, but Hinatsu said this is primarily because of refined field measurements within the original boundaries. Total acreage as of this morning stood at 12,761. No homes have been lost.

Evacuation was rescinded at 8 p.m. Monday.

“We wanted to get the homeowners in there as soon as we could. It’s been a huge inconvenience for them, and we appreciate their willingness to move out so our firefighters could do their work,” Hinatsu added. “The community support has been really encouraging for our firefighters. We really appreciate all the donations and the cards and thank-yous.”

Crews ranged from near and far in fighting Sheldon Ridge fire, including fire departments in Hood River County, along with counterparts from Klickitat, Umatilla, Morrow, Yamhill, Marion, Columbia, Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas and Polk County departments, in addition to the Department of Forestry, Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue, and U.S. Forest Service.

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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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