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Responding to Eagle Creek fire

As fire continues, community puts concern into action

VOLUNTEERS greet Cascade Locks students bussed to temporary quarters Friday after school at Skamania County shelter, as Eagle Creek fire plumes rise across the Columbia.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
VOLUNTEERS greet Cascade Locks students bussed to temporary quarters Friday after school at Skamania County shelter, as Eagle Creek fire plumes rise across the Columbia.

“This is a traumatic experience. We know that. We stand by you. We know that because of all the fathers, mothers, sons, brothers, and sisters who have all come together, in a united way, standing shoulder to shoulder, to help your community. The response to this started with the local responders. The actions of men and women of the fire departments, police departments, and sheriff, and with other responders set the tone for the first two days, for this team to be successful, and it was nothing less than heroic.” — Ian Yocum, incident commander, Eagle Creek/Indian Creek Unified Team

Nearly 1,000 people have put themselves in harm’s way to fight the Eagle Creek/Indian Creek fire in the past two weeks, and as the fire grows so does community support for the fire crews and other responders.

Hundreds of residents of Cascade Locks, Corbett, and rural Skamania County been forced from their homes by the fire.

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THUNDER Island Brewery hosted meals for firefighters and has started a GoFundMe account.

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SUNSET image by Judy Hanson.

Individuals, organizations and businesses have all stepped up to provide aid and encouragement in ways ranging from financial donations to massages, and an offering of home-baked cookies.

Here are three more things happening in the community this week.

— Kirby Neumann-Rea, editor

Tuesday music at Double Mountain

Steven Curley and Matt Byrne are hosting the Terry Hanck band Sept. 12 at Double Mountain Brewery, a benefit for search and rescue agencies. “With all the people putting their lives on the line with the fires, let’s make it a benefit,” Curley said. Showtime is 8-11 p.m. Admission will be a donation for the cause.

Hanck is a “sax player extraordinaire who spent 15 years with the Elvin Bishop Band and his band just rocks,” Curley said.

GoFundMe for local agencies

Thunder Island Brewing Co. launched a GoFundMe fundraising campaign this week to benefit Columbia River Gorge-based fire departments in response to the Eagle Creek wildfire. All of the funds raised through GoFundMe, a trusted online fundraising platform, will be distributed equally amongst local fire departments. Beneficiaries of the fundraising campaign are Cascade Locks Fire & EMS, North Bonneville Fire Department, Skamania County Fire District 2 (serving the community of Stevenson), Skamania County Fire District 1 (serving the community of Carson), Skamania County Fire District 4 (serving the community of Washougal) and Skamania County Fire District 5 (serving the community of Skamania).

The Eagle Creek wildfire has impacted communities throughout the Gorge. Hundreds of families have received mandatory (level 3) evacuation notices. Many more were notified that they may have to leave at a moment's notice. According to Thunder Island co-owner Caroline Park, “Local firefighter groups have been on the front lines from the beginning. These groups were the first to respond to provide structural and wildland fire support to our vulnerable communities.”

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Flames in Stephen Datnoff’s image show the destruction of the fire.

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CASCADE LOCKS Ale House also provided meals to firefighters, in one of the few recent examples of activity in a downtown shut down by evacuation.

Hundreds of people have contacted the brewery offering their help and support after learning about the many local Cascade Locks businesses feeding the fire crews. David Lipps, co-owner of Thunder Island said in response, “In the first few days of the fire, we got to meet and serve many of these amazing men and women that are volunteering their time to protect our communities and our beloved Columbia Gorge. At the same time, hundreds of our customers and community members wanted to donate or help. We thought a fundraiser for our local fire departments would be a meaningful way to honor their work.”

“Our local Gorge fire departments are volunteer-based, meaning they operate on a fraction of the resources that others do. They need our support now, more than ever, to continue to have the training and equipment they need to keep our communities safe year-round,” said Park. With the ongoing Eagle Creek wildfire, and with the worst and most treacherous winter in decades, the first responders of the Columbia River Gorge have depleted many of their resources in the name of public safety.

Thunder Island Brewing Co. will donate 100 percent of the proceeds from the GoFundMe fundraiser to the area agencies mentioned.

Free show tix for evacuees

For its current show, “The Last Five Years,” The Columbia Gorge Orchestra Association will give a little relief from the fire — free tickets to all fire evacuated residents, as well as area firefighters, at the Bingen Theater in Bingen. In a further effort to aid firefighting efforts, CGOA will also donate $2 from every adult ticket sold to Hood River County Search and Rescue.

The offer will apply to all the second weekend shows: Sept. 14, 15 and 16 at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $15 for adults (ages 18 and over) and $10 for students and children (10-17). Free tickets for fire evacuees, including Cascade Locks and Corbett residents, and area firefighters, will only be available at the door on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Bingen Theater is a small, 100-seat venue, so CGOA advises being there early to buy a ticket or to contribute to the county fire department efforts. There will also be a donation bucket available for those who want to contribute even more.

Advance tickets are available through gorgeorchestra.org. Two dollars per ticket will also be donated from online ticket sales for the Sept. 14-16 shows.

The CGOA production has two casts. CGOA newcomers Michele Firsching and Noel Oishi starred Sept. 8-10, and returning actors Ashly Will and William Thayer-Dougherty will lead the second weekend, Sept. 14-16.

“The Last Five Years” is an intimate, two-person musical by Jason Robert Brown.

“The hook of the show,” said Director Mark Steighner, “is that it tells the story of a romantic relationship through time ... but from the woman’s perspective, the show starts at the breakup while the man’s story begins at their first meeting. Their stories only cross once: when they get married.”

With only two characters, each actor gets plenty of stage time and a wide variety of songs that cover an equally broad range of genres, from pop to jazz to a little klezmer. “There are many songs that are showstoppers from an acting and singing perspective,” Steighner added. The musical was recently released as a film starring Anna Kendrick.

The show is rated “PG-13” for language.

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The Sternwheeler is idled along with all river traffic.

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Steve Chance and others take maps and other fire information at the Sept. 7 Unified Command fire meeting at Hood River Valley High School.



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