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Wildfire season gets underway in the Gorge

The Dog Mountain and Augspurger trails have been temporarily closed for public safety due to the nearby Dog Falls fire burning on the Washington side of the Gorge in Skamania County. Both trails start from the Dog Mountain trailhead. The trails have been cleared of any visitors and signage is posted at the trailhead informing visitors of the closure.

The Dog Falls fire is located above Highway 14 near milepost 59 to the west of Dog Creek. As of Tuesday morning, the fire was 3.25 acres in size and no containment had been listed, according to Jen Kevil and Bernie Pineda of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Office. Currently, the fire is burning in steep terrain making accessibility difficult.

Kevil reported Tuesday morning that helicopters have been dropping water on the fire, but that the Gorge winds “have picked up and are causing problems for the helicopters.”

Meanwhile, the 20-member hotshot crew out of Entiat, Wash., are on the scene making fire lines on the east and west edge of fire perimeter.

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Kevil said the cause of the fire is still under investigation. Pineda said progress has been made on containing the blaze but noted the crews are “still about a week’s worth out before we would feel comfortable saying this fire is 100-percent out.”

Both trails will remain closed until further notice. For more information on current conditions, please visit fs.usda.gov/crgnsa.

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A fire also started on Monday morning near milepost 73 on Highway 14 at the Chamberlain Lake Rest Area near Lyle in Klickitat County. According to the Washington Department of Transportation, smoke decreased visibility on Highway 14, while the eastbound lane was blocked by emergency vehicles. No cause of the fire was listed, but the scene was cleared at 5:38 p.m. Tuesday.

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The Oregon Department of Forestry, The Dalles Unit has declared the start of fire season effective Monday, June 9, at 6 a.m. This applies to all lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry in Hood River and Wasco counties. All industrial operations on forest land are required to have fire tools, water supply, and fire extinguishers on site. They will also need to provide a fire watch after every operational period.

A new law was enacted this year on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry that bans the use of exploding targets, tracer ammunition, and sky lanterns during fire season. You may reference ORS 477.512 for definitions and a full explanation of the law.

Remember that there will be a burn ban starting July 1. Please check with the landowner and ODF for current restrictions before conducting any forest activities.

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According to Jim Appleton, Mosier fire chief, as of June 5, burn piles are banned until further notice in the Mosier Fire District.

Approved burn barrels and incinerators are still allowed from dawn until 11 a.m., through the rest of the month of June.

As of July 1, all outdoor burning will be prohibited until further notice.

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