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Weather halts fire season

The Dalles-area fire mostly out; prescribed burns planned near Rowena, Lyle

With recent rainfall, fire managers at the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area are considering taking advantage of the cooler weather to start fall prescribed burns.

Burns are planned near Rowena, east of Hood River, and Catherine Creek, near Lyle, over the next month or so, weather permitting.

Meanwhile, the Government Flats Complex fire near The Dalles is all but contained, fire officials have announced.

See page A5 for a full list of Forest Service road closures.

On Sept. 4, U.S. Forest Service Type 3 Team assumed management of the portion of the Government Flats Complex fire on National Forest system land. The fire was listed as 90 percent contained as fire crews continue mop-up operations. The Forest Service has issued an updated fire area closure that reduces the size of the closure area and opens Forest Service Road 1700.

Prescribed burns are part of an ongoing effort to reduce the potential of catastrophic wildfires and improve forest health, according to Forestry officials.

Prescribed burns can achieve a number of objectives including ecosystem restoration and reduction of hazardous fuels (overgrown vegetation or ground fuels like branches, leaves and needles). Burns also recycle nutrients, improve wildlife habitat and increase the resiliency of vegetation to the effects of future wildfires.

Smoke may be visible on Interstate 84 and Washington State Route 14 at times during the duration of the burns. Where necessary, motorists should reduce speeds and turn on headlights.

Actual ignition will depend on appropriate humidity levels, wind speed and direction, temperature and fuel moisture. Burns will only occur on days when the Oregon Department of Forestry or Washington Department of Natural Resource Smoke Management Office indicates suitable weather conditions for smoke dispersal.

Forest Service reduces fire closure area

Most of the roads leading off of the 1700 road into the fire area remain closed as well as all roads leading into the fire perimeter. The Gibson Prairie Horse Camp and the North Section of trail 451 remain closed. The fire area perimeter is also closed to all but authorized personnel.

The following Forest Roads are closed: 17-660 at 17 junction, 1710 at forest boundary to 17 junction, 1710-640 at forest boundary, 1711 at forest boundary, 1711-650 at forest boundary, and 1720-193 at forest boundary.

A new forest order and map have been issued showing the decreased size of the fire perimeter and updated closure information. View it at: www.fs.usda.gov/mthood.

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