Eagle Creek fire in Oregon grows, emergency declaration and evacuations issued
CASCADE LOCKS, Ore. (KATU) — The Eagle Creek fire in the Columbia River Gorge has grown to 10,000 acres as of Tuesday morning, according to an update by the US Forest Service and other responding agencies.
The fire started at the Eagle Creek Wilderness Saturday afternoon and was sparked by a juvenile throwing a firework. Oregon State Police are investigating.
It has caused Level 3 evacuations in several Gorge towns, including Cascade Locks.
The fire moved quickly overnight Monday into Tuesday, doubling in size and reaching Multnomah Falls. Crews worked overnight to protect the lodge from flames and falling embers, and for now, it appears to be safe.
An emergency declaration was issued for Multnomah County by chair Deborah Kafoury. It includes the unincorportated area of Multnomah County in the Gorge from Gresham and Troutdale. It allows the county to seek resources from other jurisdictions.
Portland Water Bureau officials are also keeping tabs on the fire's proximity to the Bull Run Watershed, which is the main source of water supply for the Portland metro. If the need arises, the bureau will switch the water supply to the Columbia South Shore Well Field.
The wildfire has reached one of the most popular tourist destinations in Oregon - Multnomah Falls.
Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes in Cascade Locks, Warrendale, Dodson and Larch Mountain, among many others.
In a press conference Tuesday morning, officials said they had successfully worked overnight to save the historic lodge at Multnomah Falls as flames loomed overhead.
There have been no reports of buildings damaged or ruined by the flames, and no reports of injuries either.
A number of schools in the area cancelled classes due to air quality issues; Portland and Seattle experienced falling ash Tuesday from the blaze.
Many people living in Oregon and Washington woke to ash-covered cars Tuesday morning.
Winds out of the east blew smoke and debris from the Eagle Creek Fire through the Columbia River Gorge and into the Portland metro area.
With the ash came poor air quality levels; resulting in school closures and indoor recesses and sports practices.
The Portland area’s air quality diminished throughout Tuesday morning. According to the Department of Environmental Quality, the air quality index classified as “unhealthy for sensitive groups” around 8 a.m.
According to the National Weather Service in Portland, there is an air quality alert until 6 p.m. Tuesday for northwest Oregon.
Experts say pollutants in smoke can cause burning eyes, runny nose, aggravate heart and lung diseases, and aggravate other serious health problems.
Children, the elderly and anyone with health conditions should limit outdoor activities.