Car fire provides a show and a lesson

Peter Marbach

A car fire near Wyeth Wednesday afternoon provided a nice show for passing vehicles on I-84 — and a lesson for people calling 9-1-1: Please know your approximate location.

Cascade Locks Fire and EMS, which covers I-84 from mileposts 31-56, was initially dispatched to milepost 33 after a caller gave that location for a burning car.

The car, which was being towed from Hood River to Portland, began smoking while it was connected in reverse to the tow truck.

Moments after Cascade Locks was dispatched, the correct information was received, but by that point fire crews were already on the freeway heading the wrong way.

“Originally the report was two miles east of Multnomah Falls,” said Lt. Jess Zerfing. “But as soon as we got on the freeway we got a report it was by 51 so we got to Bonneville and turned around.”

With the wet weather, and the fact that no one was in the vehicle, no mutual aid from West Side or Hood River Fire was called in and Cascade Locks arrived at the scene about 10 minutes later than they would have.

Zerfing and Cascade Locks Interim Administrative Chief Devon Wells said that if the fire had been in the middle of the summer, and carried the risk of spreading into wildland near the freeway, mutual aid assistance may have been called out.

In this case, Cascade Locks crews showed up to find the car fully engulfed, the gas tank having exploded moments before. However, the fire was quickly extinguished and within an hour the debris was cleaned up.

“It was a fairly run-of-the-mill vehicle fire,” said Zerfing.

While only the car was destroyed in this case, Zerfing said Cascade Locks has had potentially more serious cases recently where the wrong address was also given to dispatchers.

Over the weekend, Cascade Locks was sent to respond to an accident just east of Multnomah Falls on I-84 eastbound. Instead, the accident was near the Bonneville Dam exit, and fire crews passed by on the other side of the freeway as they headed down the road.

“It’s pretty common for people to not know where they are,” he said. “Five miles we can work with, but 20 miles could be a big deal.”

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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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