Photo courtesy of U.S. Forest Service
A SECOND FIRE along Eagle Creek Trail has separated a group of about 150 hikers Saturday. No injuries are reported, but evacuations are underway. Emergency crews are staged at the trailhead tonight.
A second wildfire along Eagle Creek Trail, west of Cascade Locks, has trapped a group of about 150 hikers Saturday. Rescue efforts for that group and an unconfirmed number of other trail users are underway.
No one has been reported injured as of 8:40 p.m. Sept 2.
Emergency officials are not aware of any patients suffering medical issues at this incident, according to Joel Ives, Hood River County Sheriff’s deputy, as of shortly before 9 p.m.
Crews are also working to extract other, separate groups of hikers. Ives said three people on a separate trail were safely extracted. U.S. Forest Service personnel set out on foot to connect with another group of approximatively 16.
Eagle Creek Trail is closed at the trailhead. Firefighters and aircraft from the larger Indian Creek Fire are assisting with the new fire, which is burning about 50 acres.
The larger “Indian Creek Fire,” which is about eight miles up the trail, has been smoldering since July 4 and is burning around 373 acres. The two fires created a plume of smoke this afternoon that was visible from as far as Portland.
The new fire broke out this afternoon roughly one mile up the trail, according to a Forest Service social media post.
Ives said the large group of hikers — estimated at 150 — was in that area on Eagle Creek Trail, near Punch Bowl Falls. The fire separated them from the southern trailhead along Interstate 84. They hiked away to avoid the smoke, he said.
Since then, emergency officials have had “intermittent” contact with the hikers via phone, Ives said.
Ives said shortly before 8:40 p.m. the plan was for the larger group to stay overnight on the trail, then hike out at morning light. Rescue personnel were expected to deliver supplies to the stranded hikers in the meantime.
At 5:36 p.m., Hood River County Sheriff's Office told news outlets they had received multiple reports of a wildfire on or near the Eagle Creek Trail near Cascade Locks. The reports indicated hikers were on the trail above the fire, attempting to evade the smoke.
The sheriff’s office sent multiple units to Eagle Creek Trailhead, assessing the situation, as did Cascade Locks Fire. The U.S. Forest Service responded with multiple staff. Search and Rescue volunteers were mobilized to help guide hikers safely off the trails.
Pacific Northwest Search and Rescue’s Twitter account stated, “We have teams deploying to assist the evacuation of the Eagle Creek Trail due to an active wildfire.”
The Hood River Crag Rats and Mt. Wave Rescue are among those helping in this endeavor.
This is a breaking news story. The Hood River News will post more information this weekend as it becomes available.