Grass fire threatens residences, hospital in The Dalles

A large grass fire came nervously close to several residences and within 1,000 feet of Mid-Columbia Medical Center in The Dalles on Saturday.

According to Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue, the blaze originated in the engine compartment of a motor home located in the 2300 block of East 19th St. near Covenant Christian Church at 3:45 p.m. No injuries were reported.

About 80 firefighters from gorge agencies battled the fire before containing it at 8 p.m. Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue was assisted by units from Oregon Department of Forestry, Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area, Pine Grove, Odell, Westside, Hood River, Lyle, High Prairie and Dallesport.

Officials said the fire burned more than 200 acres. Damage estimates for the loss of the motor home, storage shed and a 1989 Dodge Ram pickup also consumed in the fire were almost $25,000.

Fire Marshal Stu Nagel said the flames from the motor home spilled over into the surrounding dry grass, then completely engulfed an old hay storage shed, which housed the truck. From there, the flames moved up the foothills west of the fireÆs starting point, along the ridge underneath powerlines at the top of the hill, then back down toward a cherry orchard.

At one point, flames came to within 1,000 feet of Mid-Columbia Medical Center, though the hospital was never in serious danger. Nagel said had the day been windy, the fire could have easily been worse. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Nagel said with the dry conditions and extreme heat, Saturday’s incident could be easily be repeated throughout the summer. “This is a wake-up call,” Nagel said. “We’ve had such a wet spring that there’s now a tremendous fuel load (for a fire.) “With this hot weather, it won’t take much to [start another fire]. The next one could be explosive.

Latest stories

Latest video:

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

Log in to comment

News from our Community Partners