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White River Fire
Wildfire season hits close to home with White River Fire posted on 09/01/2020

A wildfire started by lightning was discovered on Monday, Aug. 17 approximately 13 miles southeast of Government Camp in the White River drainage near Forest Road 48. Early estimates put the fire at approximately 150 acres, but by Saturday, Aug. 29, it had grown to 11,184 acres.

 

Mary Ellen Fitzgerald, Incident Information Officer, noted that the fire left lands on the Mount Hood National Forest and was threatening Pine Grove.

Hoodland Fire District (HFD) Chief Steven Abel stressed that this time of year brings high fire danger in the area and that all open fires are banned in the Mount Hood National Forest and in the district.

“We’re just asking people, the weather is dryer, to be extremely cautious,” Abel said. “People don’t realize the danger we are in right now.”

Abel added that the district sent a brush truck with two personnel to the White River Fire, and that Clackamas County had recently declined to send firefighters to California.

“Our first priority here is to make sure the Hoodland Fire District is covered,” Abel said. “That’s not going to be an issue.”

The efforts on the White River Fire took a tragic turn on Monday, Aug. 24 when Thomas Duffy, 40, of Bozeman, Mont. died when the helicopter he was flying crashed while conducting bucket drops.

An Honor Guard procession from Portland to Hood River was on Thursday, Aug. 27. An investigation into the crash is ongoing.

The response to the fire grew to include 819 total personnel and 19 engines, five dozers, eight water tenders and seven helicopters as of Saturday, Aug. 29.

The Wasco County Sheriff issued evacuation notices on Thursday, Aug. 27 for the area east from Bear Springs Ranger Station along Hwy. 216 through Pine Grove to the intersection of Endersby Road and Hwy. 216, also included are all of Endersby Road, Linns Mill Road and Kelly Springs Road.

For the latest closure information and specifics on closed campgrounds, recreation areas, trails and roads, see the forest Facebook page and Inciweb https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/closures/7013/

Protect your home

Tips from the American Red Cross on how to prepare your property for a potential wildfire:

– Create a defensible space around your home by using the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) zone concept.

– Choose fire-resistant plants. Consult a landscaper in your area or this state-by-state list of fire-resistant plants at the National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise website.

– Create empty space between shrubs and trees to reduce the chance of flames leaping between them.

– Prune trees above the height of bushes and shrubs (approximately six to ten feet off the ground) and remove dead branches.

– Mow grassy areas regularly so that the grass is never more than four inches high.

– Remove dead and dry plants that could fuel a fire, as well as fallen leaves, pinecones, and other dry plant material.

By Garth Guibord/MT

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