Fire danger: Good news out of Blackburn, but Labor Day brings new concerns

Two steps forward, one step back.

That’s one way to look at the good news about the Blackburn fire, now mostly contained, countered by a worrisome incident Tuesday morning just a few miles west.

As noted in Tuesday’s release by Oregon Department of Forestry, “the last several days of hard work by fire crews has resulted in the lifting of all evacuation levels by the Wasco County Sheriff’s Office and a reduction of the Mt. Hood National Forest’s Area Closure. The team’s fire behavior analyst stated that the fine fuels (grass and small branches) are starting to dry out from the recent moisture and are becoming more combustible. Any burning has a low possibility of spreading but it will make detecting hot areas easier, allowing a more complete mop-up.”

At about 9 a.m. Tuesday, firefighters in Wy’east District responded to a campfire along the water pipeline near Odell that got out of control. A citation was issued, and responders were able clear the scene by about 10:15.

Fortunately, the fire was caught before it could do too much damage, but luck and human intervention are different in every situation, and it could have been far worse.

Labor Day Weekend is upon us, and with it comes an increase in campers, hikers and other visitors to the forests.

Travelers are reminded that forest roads into the Blackburn area fire are still closed due to heavy fire traffic. Listings of the road, trail and campground area closures may be found at

Recreationists should not relax in light of the recent rains. It only takes hours for the fine fuels (grasses, twigs, etc.) to dry out and become tinder again.

Fire protection is prevention. Whether you are heading into the woods or staying home, it’s good to remember measures of protection. Residents may obtain information from the Oregon Department of Forestry or local fire departments on steps to take for their property to survive a wildfire.

But above all, this weekend, remember: “Only you are responsible for your campfire.” Make sure it is dead out, and leave your campsite cleaner than you found it.

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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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