‘Memaloose 2’ Fire 65 percent contained

A PLANE drops a load of water onto the Memaloose 2 Fire on Saturday.

Patricia Connolly
A PLANE drops a load of water onto the Memaloose 2 Fire on Saturday.

The Memaloose 2 Fire is currently estimated at 167 acres and 65 percent contained, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) reported. Suppression efforts are now focused on strengthening containment lines and mopping up the interior of the fire.

Wasco County Sheriff’s office have decreased Level 3 (Go Now!) evacuation notices to Level 2 (Get Set!) in the intersection of Highway 30 and Marsh cutoff east to the Rowena Loop — which includes both sides of Highway 30, Rowena Dell, Rowena Overlook and Canyon Way down to Rowena Ferry Road.

Level 2 evacuations remain in effect between Dell Road and the intersection of State Road and Marsh Cutoff (both sides of the road), as do Level 1 (Get Ready!) evacuation notices for both sides of I-84 and Highway 30 from the bottom of the Rowena Loops to the west end of Tooley Lake and Mayor State Park.

Eastbound Memaloose Rest Area remains closed, but Highway 30 is currently open with no restrictions, Wasco County Sheriff said.

I-84 is open but Wasco County Sheriff’s Office asks that travelers don’t stop to view or take pictures of firefighting activities.

Due to continued fire suppression efforts in the area, Marsh Cutoff and Dell Road are open to local traffic only.

Crews were able to stop the spread of the fire late Saturday night, said Christie Shaw, public information officer with ODF’s Central Oregon District.

The scene is currently manned by four 20-person crews and a handful of engines, Shaw said, along with several tenders and helicopters for use if needed.

Structural fire crews and the Oregon State Marshal’s Incident Management Team, brought in after Governor Kate Brown invoked the Conflagration Act to increase available resources, were released to their own communities Sunday after crews stopped the spread of the fire and Wasco County Sheriff lowered evacuation levels.

The fire is currently managed under the Unified Command of ODF, United States Forestry Service and Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office Blue Team was involved but demobilized Sunday, ODF reported.

No injuries have been reported and no structures have been damaged in the fire, Shaw said.

Memaloose 2 (named because it is the second fire to start near Memaloose State Park this fire season) was first reported late Friday evening on the south side of I-84 near the eastbound Memaloose Rest Area, approximately three miles east of Mosier and five miles northwest of The Dalles. Though lightning has been ruled out, the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

While fire season is still far from over, Memaloose 2 is the only actively burning major wildfire in the Gorge at the time of publication.

Officials determined the South Valley Fire was 100 percent contained at the end of shift Thursday, Aug. 9, and all evacuation levels put in place for that fire were lifted Sunday morning. The cause is still under investigation. As of Tuesday, the Long Hollow Fire was 97 percent contained.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, there are 10 major fires actively burning in Oregon and 13 in Washington at the time of publication, with a combined acreage just under 300,000.

Thick smoke from Oregon, Washington and California wildfires has settled on the Gorge and air quality in the region, monitored at a station in The Dalles, has reached red, or unhealthy, levels — meaning that people will likely begin experiencing adverse health effects like a persistent cough or scratchy throat, eye irritation and headaches. Some may experience more serious symptoms like shortness of breath, lung irritation, an irregular heartbeat or asthma attacks.

If you’re worried about your symptoms, contact a medical professional.

For strategies on how to protect yourself from wildfire smoke, see the article published in the Saturday, Aug. 11 edition of the News.

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