Fire closes Twin Tunnels trail for a month or more

The Milepost 66 fire crept through the trees and remained fairly well behaved over night. Light east winds forecast for today will help crews get handle on the fire but will cause another smoky day in Hood River. Stay tuned for updates through the day.

Photo by Adam Lapierre.
The Milepost 66 fire crept through the trees and remained fairly well behaved over night. Light east winds forecast for today will help crews get handle on the fire but will cause another smoky day in Hood River. Stay tuned for updates through the day.

With the danger of falling boulders and other hazards a real threat, the Mosier Twin Tunnels trail, connected to the Mark O. Hatfield State Park above Hood River, will be closed to pedestrians and cyclists for up to a month or more.

“The clear message to the public needs to be that the trail is closed to everyone but assigned personnel,” said Diane McClay, park ranger supervisor for Oregon State Parks and Recreation.

“There is still a safety concern for firefighters on the ground. When the public starts to breech that fire line, now the firefighters’ attention gets diverted from the job they are supposed to be doing to dealing with the public.

“It diminishes their ability to focus. With people on the trail fire fighters are at risk and the public is at risk. We really need everyone’s cooperation.”

As a result of the now-contained Milepost 66 fire that swept through the surrounding hills beginning last Tuesday, rocks, logs, dirt and debris now litter the scenic and popular route. The fire is contained but still active, with flare-ups and smoke expected for some time.

“This is much like the Microwave fire,” said Mark Stevenson, OSPR representative. “When we drag hoses and shoot water during the firefighting efforts, we get loads of debris onto the Historic Highway trail. Rocks, logs — it’s all out there and it is pretty impassable.

“It should take us a good two weeks to clear the trail. It could take another month or so of daily rock removal to keep the road clear and safe,” said Stevenson. “It is also dependent upon the weather.

“Once the rains come, we’ll have a lot of dirt and debris coming down,” said Stevenson. “We are waiting for the rains to bring it all down, and the rain will also help stabilize the area.”

According to Stevenson, the burned areas include OSPR lands, National Scenic Area lands and private properties. Erin Black, U.S. Forest Service National Scenic Area representative coordinating with the unified command team, noted, “The Milepost 66 fire is contained, boxed in; but not controlled. They are still putting out hot spots.

“The trail will be closed even after the fire is fully out until we can assess hazards from snags or falling rocks, and it will be up to Oregon State Parks to determine the actual reopen date.”

Stevenson articulated some of the hazard details saying, “Most of the firefighting didn’t happen in evening or night because of the constant danger from falling logs and rocks. The time estimate to reopen can change but local bike riders were already starting to use the trail again. We are asking them to stay off for at least a month and a half. This is not a passable trail.”

Aided by calm winds, firefighters completed the containment line around the Milepost 66 fire on Sept. 27.

The fire, two miles east of Hood River, was contained at 70 acres by about 120 firefighters and two helicopters.

According to Stevenson, the cause of the fire is still under investigation but it is not believed to be the result of mischief.

Latest stories

Latest video:

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

Log in to comment

News from our Community Partners