Fire rages near Cascade Locks

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Firefighters hose flames near Cascade Locks at 12:45 p.m. today. Oregon and Washington agencies responded to the fire, which is currently prompting evacuations in Cascade Locks.

Fire raged on both sides of Interstate 84 near Cascade Locks Tuesday afternoon, raising thick smoke and closing the freeway in both directions as firefighters battled a fast-moving fire driven by gusty winds.

The Cascade Locks industrial park was evacuated at around noon, after the fire spread quickly between 11 a.m. and noon, affecting Bear Mountain Pellets, Cascade Wood Products and other businesses.

One firefighter described it as “a major problem.”

As of 1 p.m., the city of Cascade Locks itself was unthreatened, according to Mayor Ralph Hesgard. However, he issued a bulletin to residents living near the freeway to water down their roofs and yards.

Trees and power poles burned in the Herman Creek as Oregon State Patrol stopped traffic on the freeway as well as the adjacent train tracks. Washington State Patrol were called in to close the Bridge of the Gods at 1:10 p.m., to prevent further tie-ups on I-84. Wasco County deputies and OSP were asked to turn back traffic at Mosier.

The blaze began near milepost 47 and spread through five acres of dry grass and into the tree line within 30 minutes. Witnessed reported extensive smoke and fire moving westward on both sides of the interstate. Cars were backed up for about two miles east from Wyeth after OSP closed the freeway. Witnesses said power lines and poles were consumed by fire, which was topping from tree to tree in places.

Traffic was diverted back to Hood River, where the Port of Hood River waived all tolls.

“It’s backed up as far as I can see,” said bridge worker Allen Elliott.

Firefighters from the City of Cascade Locks, Odell, Pine Grove and Hood River, and agencies from surrounding areas were called to battle the blaze under hot summer skies. Officials said the lack of rain during the summer season provided the flames with enough fuel for rapid growth.

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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 www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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