Eagle Creek Fire/Historic Hwy update from ODOT

Taken from 10/12 Historic Columbia River Highway newsletter:

Eagle Creek Fire Update

As of October 11, according to the Eagle Creek Fire Incident managers, the fire has burned 48,831 acres and is 50 percent contained.

Cooler temperatures and rain will help reduce the potential for significant fire activity. The uncontained portion of the fire is in steep, inaccessible terrain and fire managers do not anticipate the wildfire will spread in these areas.

Falling trees and rocks punched through wooden railings and decorative rail along the Historic Highway. Rocks of varying sizes slid down slopes and off of steep hillsides. In many places, the rocks and trees line that the road and those in the distance are charred and likely weakened.

The fire removed vegetation, underbrush and tree roots that support the Columbia Gorge. We expect to see land and rock slides with additional rain.

ODOT crews and hired contractors continue to remove trees in danger of falling into the roadway, scale slopes to remove debris and rocks, and inspect structures.

The Historic Highway will remain closed until hazards have been removed and it is safe to open.

The wood lining and portal timbers inside of the Oneonta Tunnel caught fire, and there are concerns about heat-related damage to the structural shotcrete under the wood. The bluffs on either side of the tunnel continue to drop rocks, and our engineers have been unable to safely determine any additional structural damage.

Once we are able to safely access the inside of the structure and determine what restoration is needed, we will determine the cost to rehabilitate the wood and any additional damage and pursue funding to restore the tunnel.

Thank you for continuing to stay off the Historic Columbia River Highway and State Trail, as well as all the trails closed due to the Eagle Creek Fire.

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Ted Timmons (Contributor)

Also today, the kid who started the fire was charged with at least five different items: “reckless burning, depositing burning materials on forest lands, unlawful possession of fireworks”.