Long Hollow Fire 75 percent contained, red flag fire warning remains in effect

Hood River was covered in a haze over the weekend as winds blew smoke from the Long Hollow Fire, which started five miles south of Dufur.

As of Tuesday morning, the fire had burned 34,451 acres of brush and grass south of Dufur (a decrease from Monday’s reported 35,550 acres due to more accurate mapping), and is 75 percent contained.

“We’re on a glide path to demobilize and turn this fire back to the local administration by Wednesday,” said Alan Hoffmeister, public information officer with the Northwest Incident Management Team 10, to The Dalles Chronicle.

“Things are looking really good,” a Central Oregon Area Interagency Dispatch Center (COIDC) representative said. Firefighters are continuing to monitor the area and improve existing containment lines.

No injuries have been reported and one structure, the historic Ferry Canyon Homestead, was lost.

Hot and dry conditions throughout the Gorge prompted the National Weather Service to issue an excessive heat warning for the area Monday morning. A red flag warning, meaning that conditions are ideal for wildland fire combustion, is in effect from noon on Tuesday, July 31 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 1 due to gusty winds and potential lightning.

The fire began just southeast of Dufur around 4:45 p.m. on July 26 when a combine harvesting wheat caught fire, the Chronicle reported.

“Whether it hit a rock and threw a spark we aren’t exactly sure, but it started behind the combine and this area is non-protected, it’s not in a fire district. They don’t have a volunteer fire district they can call at the drop of a hat,” Hoffmeister told the Chronicle, “So, the local landowner and probably his neighbors got involved and did what they could, and that day it was extremely hot, and it was breezy if not windy.”

The fire blew towards the Deschutes River, burning southeasterly and jumping the river into Sherman County. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management was called in the first day, and it put air resources on the fire, “but that that point it was pretty much too late, it was running,” Hoffmeister told the Chronicle.

Residents along the Deschutes River between Sherars Falls and Mack’s Cannon were issued a Level 3 (Go!) evacuation notice on Thursday, that was lowered to Level 1 (Get Ready) on Sunday and all evacuation levels along the Deschutes were lifted by Monday.

The Deschutes River access road and Hwy 216 are open, but drivers are encouraged to use caution, as fire personnel are still using those routes. Recreational sites along the river are also open.

If people already have reservations in the area, “We feel very comfortable at this point telling people to keep them,” a COIDC representative said, adding that visitors should still be aware of their surroundings.

The nearby Substation Fire, which started July 17 and burned nearly 78,500 acres, was 92 percent contained as of last week and fire officials hope to have it completely contained by the end of this week.

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