Wednesday, September 14, 2011
U.S. Forest Service personnel turned away a steady stream of weekenders headed to the Lost Lake area over the busy holiday weekend as a thick layer of smoke settled over the entire upper Hood River Valley.
The smoke, from the Dollar Lake Fire, is a sign of continued active fire behavior and burnout operations along the now 4,500-acre blaze, actively moving west across the north side of Mount Hood.
Fueled by unstable wind and weather conditions, dry desert air blowing from the east and dense fuel, the fire took a large run to the west over the weekend, roughly doubling in size from Thursday to Saturday. Closures - and areas threatened by the fire - now range from Cloud Cap Inn and the Cooper Spur on the eastern perimeter to Lost Lake and Lolo Pass areas to the west.
An inversion layer held smoke low over the fire through Monday, starving it of some oxygen and keeping behavior relatively calm. The spread to the west toward the Bull Run Watershed, large islands of unburned fuel within the fire perimeter, potential for extreme fire behavior and predicted severe fire weather forecasted through this week has increased the priority of the incident. A national type-I team took over operations of the fire Monday, integrating efforts with the type-II team that had been managing the incident from the fairgrounds in Odell since last week.
"On Saturday, 20 mph east winds, gusting to 30 mph, pushed the fire three miles to the west in the Mount Hood Wilderness," noted fire information officers. "The westward spread of the fire and its proximity to Bull Run Watershed increased the complexity of the fire, causing officials to order a National Type I fire team."
In anticipation of extreme fire weather and unstable atmospheric conditions predicted to start today, firefighters conducted burnout operations and constructed a fireline that they hope will slow or stop the spread of fire in those areas if or when it approaches. They also took advantage of reduced fire behavior caused by the thick, low-level smoke to complete and mop up containment lines in the Coe Creek drainage on the north and east perimeter of the fire. Crews continue to water the historic structures in the Cloud Cap and Tilly Jane area.
On the other flank of the fire to the west, crews conducted burnout operations along Pinnacle Ridge and worked to establish fire lines in the Mazama Trail/Cathedral Ridge area.
Pacific Crest Trail hikers, rerouted by the fire, have been advised to detour around the fire by walking along Highway 35 and Interstate 84 to Cascade Locks, or along Highway 35 to Dee, to Rainy Lake, to Wahtum Lake and on to Cascade Locks.
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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