Major Creek fire burns 150 acres

A couple peers from Memaloose Overlook at a wildfire burning across the Columbia River in Washington near Major Creek, which lies between Catherine Creek and Lyle. As of press time, the fire had burned 150 acres and was 40-percent contained, with full containment or near-full containment expected for Friday evening.

Photo by Ben Mitchell.
A couple peers from Memaloose Overlook at a wildfire burning across the Columbia River in Washington near Major Creek, which lies between Catherine Creek and Lyle. As of press time, the fire had burned 150 acres and was 40-percent contained, with full containment or near-full containment expected for Friday evening.

A wildfire that started west of Lyle Wednesday afternoon and burned 150 acres of U.S. Forest Service and Native American trust land was at 40-percent containment as of Friday morning, according to Stan Hinatsu, recreation program manager for the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area office in Hood River.

Flames and smoke could be clearly seen from across the river in the area around Mosier. Onlookers gathered at Memaloose Overlook and a rest stop on I-84 to watch fire crews battle the blaze from the air with helicopters and on the ground with hand crews and engines.

The fire is burning west of Major Creek and east of Catherine Creek on a plateau above the Columbia River that primarily contains dry grasses, timber, and poison oak.

The estimate of the fire’s size jumped from 100 acres to 150 acres on Friday as crews measure the fire’s perimeter with GPS devices.

“It didn’t grow,” Hinatsu said of the fire’s size. “It reflects more accurate mapping.”

A total of 122 personnel were assigned to the fire as of press time, including four crews and two strike teams of five engines that make up the Type 3 management team. Hinatsu also said two helicopters were still available if necessary, but would likely not be needed. The majority of the firefighters are from the Washington Department of Natural Resources and the Forest Service, which took over the management of the fire from local fire crews, who initially responded to the blaze Wednesday afternoon.

The hot, windy weather caused great concern as the fire grew and moved east toward the west canyon wall of Major Creek. Firefighters worked diligently Wednesday and Thursday to make sure the fire did not cross Major Creek and travel east, where it would have endangered homes and other structures.

“That would have been a bad thing,” Hinatsu said.

No structures are in the immediate area of the fire, but Old Highway 8 was closed and was scheduled to remain closed through Friday. Hinatsu estimated the nearest structure was a quarter mile to a half mile away.

Though Hinatsu described Wednesday and Thursday as “red flag” fire days, he said crews had a good handle on the fire Friday morning and expected the fire would likely be mostly contained by the end of the day.

“We’re at 40-percent containment,” Hinatsu announced Friday morning, “but I expect that to change by the end of the day. We may reach 100-percent containment by the end of our operational day.”

According to Hinatsu, the fire is human-caused, but the exact method of its ignition was unknown as of press time.

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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



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