Dollar Lake fire burning hot

September 3, 2011

Crews on the Dollar Lake Fire took advantage of three days of cool temperatures and higher humidity this week to construct fire breaks and contingency lines around the perimeter of the fire.

But high wind, thick smoke, rugged terrain, limited access, heavy fuels and incoming hot, dry weather are just some of the challenges crews on the ground and in the air are facing on the now 1,801-acre fire burning on the north side of Mount Hood between Laurance Lake and Cloud Cap Inn.

An inversion layer trapped smoke near the fire Thursday, putting a halt to aerial attack units and severely limiting progress ground crews were able to make in anticipation of hot, dry and possibly windy weather in store for the weekend. The objective since the fire nearly tripled in size on Sunday and Monday, has been to use as many natural and existing features around the fire as possible to create fire breaks and contingency lines to be used when activity picks up.

"Looking at infared images, there's a lot of heat in there, and we know there's a lot of fuel," said Peter Frenzen, USFS information officer, from the Incident Command Post at Wy'east Fairgrounds. "It's similar to what we saw with the Gnarl Ridge Fire. It's not only difficult terrain to fight fire in; we also have the heavy fuel component and the unpredictable winds created by Mount Hood. It's a difficult fire to fight."

Thursday night 40 mph winds at Cloud Cap Inn kept night patrol crew busy looking for spit fires and watching the area's historic structures. In anticipation of the fire's eastward spread, crews wrapped some structures in the Tilly Jane area in protective foil, established a sprinkler system using water from Tilly Jane Creek and set up hose lays around the Inn supported by water tenders and large engines.

An update Friday morning noted 5 percent containment on the August 27, lightning-caused fire. Personnel Thursday was 274, but in anticipation of extreme fire potential this weekend, additional crews arrived and the number was up to 466 by Friday. Additional helicopters are among the increased resources.

The fire is currently less than a mile from Laurance Lake on the northwest edge and a similar distance to Cloud Cap Inn on the east edge. As of Friday, the fire was slowly backing downhill into Elliot Canyon, which was the far western burn area of the 2008 Gnarl Ridge Fire.

Efforts, Frenzen said, will be focused on cooling spots in the canyon and slowing the eastern and northern spread of the fire as activity picks up over the weekend. The area of least concern, he said, are the southern flanks highest up the mountain.

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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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