The Memaloose Park Fire, located along Interstate 84 ten miles west of Hood River, was 70 percent contained as of Tuesday, Oregon Department of Forestry reports.
The human-caused fire broke out early Friday evening near the west end of the State Park, eight miles east of Hood River, sending thick smoke over Interstate 84 (which remained open) and the Columbia River.
Gusting winds quickly carried the flames east, and embers jumped the freeway a half-mile away. The fire burned about 75 acres, threatening the Rural Dell community and blackening the north side of the Memaloose State Park overlook.
Crews made significant progress mopping-up the heat and flames within the fire perimeter on Sunday. Kiel Nairns, Incident Commander is confident containment lines are holding, “ Sunday’s heat and afternoon winds tested the containment lines. They held and we didn’t see any fire activity that concerned us.” Firefighters continued Monday and Tuesday to find heat or flames within the fire perimeter, using tools to expose these areas and dousing with water to extinguish any hot spots. The weather forecast for mid-week calls for warm temperatures and increasing winds. This will again test the fireline and expose any hidden interior fire, according to Nairns. Crews will continue working within the fire over the next few days until the fire is 100 percent contained. Firefighters were able to use GPS to map the fire perimeter on Sunday, updating the acreage to 74 acres.
Over the weekend the fire threatened homes in the Rowena Dell area. The Wasco County Sheriff lifted all evacuations Monday morning at 8 a.m. Memaloose State Park is currently closed to new campers entering the campground. This closure is in place to ensure firefighter and public safety during firefighting activities. The westbound Interstate 84 Memaloose Rest Area will remain closed until repairs can be made to the electrical system which were damaged by the fire.
The fire burned lands within Memaloose State Park, Oregon Travel Experience’s Memaloose Rest Area, and private lands protected by Oregon Department of Forestry, Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue protection, and some lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The fire is human caused and under investigation.
Firefighters from Wy’east Fire District, Hood River Fire Department, Mosier Fire Department, and Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue responded along with USFS, ODFW and Gorge National Scenic Area crews.
Regulated-Use Closure is in effect within Oregon Department of Forestry’s Central Oregon District. These restrictions are intended to reduce wildfires from human activities. More information for these restrictions can be found at www.odfcentraloregon.com.