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Smoky Indian Creek blaze will be burning for ‘a long time’


BURNT VEGETATION shows a spot where the Indian Creek Fire has burned. The fire in the Mt. Hood National Forest grew to more than 70 acres, atop steep slopes that have made ground crew firefighter access impossible.

Photo courtesy of InciWeb
BURNT VEGETATION shows a spot where the Indian Creek Fire has burned. The fire in the Mt. Hood National Forest grew to more than 70 acres, atop steep slopes that have made ground crew firefighter access impossible.

A fire in westernmost Hood River County that broke out in early July hasn’t been silenced. Officials estimated its size at more than 70 acres this week.

The Indian Creek Fire is burning in steep terrain almost eight miles up Eagle Creek Trail. Firefighters have been on scene keeping tabs on the blaze while helicopters attack from above, dropping buckets of water.

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CREWS left emblems in pencil at the Fairgrounds in 2011. (Article below.)

Fire camp moves in after Fair

The fair will be over Saturday night, but Hood River County Fairgrounds will stay busy.

Fire officials plan to use the fairgrounds starting Monday afternoon as a fire camp for crews working the Indian Creek fire west of Cascade Locks.

A recreational vehicle group of 45 or so will arrive Sunday, and share the main parking area of the fairgrounds through Wednesday.

In the coming week, or weeks, the fire crews will camp at the fairgrounds and use the restrooms and showers, Community Building kitchen, and an office trailer installed this year during fair by the livestock barns for 4-H to use.

The fairgrounds were most recently used as fire camp in 2011. Visible mementi of that year are the agency emblems (photo, above) drawn in pencil on the plywood sides of a fairgrounds utility cart.

Officials expect the fire will keep burning for “a long time,” according to an InciWeb information system report.

Bernie Pineda, a spokesman for the firefighting team, said the fire could continue until “rain or snow, whichever comes first — or both.

“We’re just trying to keep it in the current location without it getting bigger,” Pineda said.

As of late Thursday, crews had measured the fire at 74 acres.

The fire started July 4 evening in steep and rugged terrain near Seven and a Half Mile Camp in the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness in the Mt. Hood National Forest.

Firefighters hiked into the area on Eagle Creek Trail, and requested aerial support from a helicopter to drop water on the fire — the 75-percent slopes made the fire unsafe for the crew to fight from the ground.

It ate through the forest floor, growing to seven acres, then stalled — for several days the fire showed no growth of smoke.

On July 19, it flared up again and began spreading slowly through the undergrowth. Despite not roaring up into large flames, the fire’s smoke has occasionally spread far enough to impact nearby communities like Cascade Locks and drivers on Interstate 84.

An infrared flight mapped the fire at 63 acres late July 22. Eleven days later, it was mapped at 74.

On July 28, a National Incident Management Organization (NIMO) Team assumed control of the Indian Creek Fire, led by Incident Commander Mike Quesinberry.

In total, about 68 personnel were assigned to the fire Friday.

For base camp purposes, crews have been stationed at the Hood River Ranger District station in Parkdale. Pineda said the team is considering moving to the Hood River County Fairgrounds in Odell on Monday morning, after the fair has wrapped up.

Warm and dry weather conditions are expected to continue through the week. There was no measurable rainfall in the last 30 days.

“No significant relief or changes are predicted,” the InciWeb report said.

On July 27, the Mt. Hood National Forest expanded trail and area closures in place for the area surrounding the fire. It now includes Eagle Creek Trail 440 from the boundary with the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness (to the north) to its terminus at the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail.

Also closed are the adjacent trails Eagle Benson 434, Indian Springs Trail 432, Eagle Tanner Trail 433, Chinidere Cutoff Trail 406M, and Tanner Butte Trail 401. Forest Service Road 1310 is closed east of the junctions with the 1311 to its terminus at Wahtum Lake.

A map of the Indian Creek Fire Closure can be found online at tinyurl.com/yalbjal3.



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