Cascade Locks firefighters torch three derelict homes

Smoke billowed over Cascade Locks on Saturday morning while the Cascade Locks Fire Department conducted a “burn and learn” exercise.

Three dilapidated houses at the corner of Regulator and Moody streets were set ablaze for the training drill. Fire Chief Mike Renault said the controlled burn gave 17 volunteer firefighters — especially five new recruits —a rare opportunity to gain hands-on experience.

“Cascade Locks only has a structure fire once every five years so when we can do this, we can sign off on a lot of certification skills,” Renault said.

Last fall, the city approached Douglas Jenson, the owner of the buildings, about using them for a live fire training. The aging dwellings had fallen into disrepair and had a long history of being inhabited by drug users and dealers.

Jenson, a Portland resident, not only agreed to the destruction of the structures, but paid for the disposal of interior debris and furniture prior to the burn. City Ordinance Enforcement Officer Kevin Dean coordinated the effort to clean out the houses, utilizing youth community service crews from both Multnomah and Hood River counties.

Because of their proximity to neighboring properties, two of the buildings were flattened and piled on the central blaze in the house at the junction of the two streets. In addition to observing the fire behavior, Cascade Locks personnel practiced breaching walls and ceilings, rescuing victims and applying varied techniques for containing and extinguishing flames.

Renault credits greater public awareness about fire danger for lowered call rates in recent years. He said city officials have taken an active role in educating citizens on simple steps they can take to prevent both house and wildfires.

“Public education makes a lot of difference,” Renault said.

After the morning exercise was completed, Cascade Locks Interested in Kids, the local drug prevention agency, celebrated the elimination of the problem homes by hosting a free community hot dog feed.

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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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