Aided by wind and heavy fuel, Dollar Lake Fire lights up the sky

August 31, 2011

An ominous orange light filled the southern sky Monday night. The skyscraper plume of smoke made for a pretty sunset, and the soft glow looked like a nightlight plugged into Mount Hood.

There's fire on the mountain, again.

The Dollar Lake Fire, estimated at about 1,500 acres as of early Tuesday morning, is burning in areas of high-density fuel on the north side of Mount Hood. The type-II Northwest Oregon Interagency Incident Management Team took charge of the fire Tuesday and is dispersing 13 crews to battle the blaze, burning in both national forest and wilderness area.

The lightning-caused fire started Friday night in a remote area south of Laurance Lake. On Saturday the fire was assessed at just a few acres. Thunderstorms Sunday night centered over the fire and brought high winds, which turned the small incident into a major concern by the next morning. Sustained west winds in the 30-mph range throughout Monday fanned the flames even more, and the fire was estimated to have tripled in size by the end of the day.

With high winds, heavy smoke and limited resources, firefighting Monday was limited. But with the management team in place, resources on scene, clouds overhead and hot weather forecasted for the weekend, crews will work over the next couple of days to make as much progress as possible.

A spokeswoman for the management team said firefighting efforts will be focused on the north and east sides of the fire and structures in the Cooper Spur area are not directly threatened at the moment. No evacuation orders had been made, but as a preventative measure the historic Cloud Cap Inn was being wrapped in a protective foil.

Resembling the 2008 Gnarl Ridge Fire that was caused by lightning in late August, the Dollar Lake Fire is burning in thick timber and high-density dead and down materials. Paired with upslope winds in the morning, downslope winds in the evening, regular strong winds throughout the day and often difficult terrain hampering efforts on the ground, large fires in the area are extremely difficult to put an end to quickly.

The Gnarl Ridge Fire wasn't fully out until autumn brought heavy rain and snow to the area.

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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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