Despite less smoke, the Government Flat Fire is not over

August 26, 2013 by:

On Saturday I drove up to The Dalles to spend some time at Wahtonka High School – base camp for the wild fire. From I-84 and the center of The Dalles, there is basically no evidence that a forest fire still burns in the area, so when I showed up at the school, about 10 miles from the fire, I was shocked to see the school grounds almost entirely covered in tents with over a 1,000 fire fighters and personnel. What I saw in the next hour blew me away as I spent some time with the night crew before heading off to work.  Here is a video I took of my experience.

Some quick stats

On Saturday there were 1,023 personnel assigned; today that number is 1,055. Total cost as of Saturday was $7,738,450; today that total is $10,200,000. There were 37 handcrews, 32 engines, 10 helicopter, 14 dozers, and 15 water tenders working Saturday; today there are 35 handcrews, 36 engines, 12 dozers, 15 water tenders, and 8 helicopters. The fire was 25% contained Saturday and is now 45% contained, though on Saturday threats to structures had been minimized, today there are 83 residential/82 outbuildings being threatened!

Here is an update I received from David Morman at base camp this morning.

Blackburn Fire Update:

What makes a good firefighter?  Along with other skills, it is their ability to mop-up one piece of real estate at a time – grid it, look it over with a fine tooth comb, and hand rototill until no heat is left.   Crews are taking advantage of the past couple of days of cool and wet weather, putting control lines against the black (burned area),  mopping –up  (making sure the area is cold out) and removing hazard snags.  As the operation section chief stated, “It is a good day to make hay and accomplish our objective of taking care of this fire.”

As portions of the fire are progressively meeting the desired objectives, personnel are being shifted to other areas of the fire, being demobilized and sent home or to another fire.   There should be a noticeable downsizing of the “tent city” at the WahtonkaHigh School.

Fire personnel found yesterday that not all tents, even with rain flies or plastic coverings, are the same.  Logistics personnel scrambled to assist firefighters with wet inner tents and bedding, by providing dry sleeping bags and arranging their sleeping in the school’s gym.  The gym floor may be harder, but it is dry and warm.   The American Red Cross also made blankets available for use, if needed.

Roads within the fire area remain closed to non-residential traffic throughout the day.  It is anticipated that all evacuation levels will be lifted this evening.   Residents are encouraged to be very cautious when driving due to the high level of suppression vehicles and heavy equipment using the roads in the area.

Recreationists (including bow hunters and bicyclists) are reminded that the Mt.Hood National Forest has implemented an area closure in proximity to the Blackburn Fire.  Listings of the road, trail, campground, and general area closures may be found at the Forest web site: Mt Hood National Forest  ( and at

Government Flat Complex at a glance:

Total Complex Acreage:  12,070                                 Blackburn Fire Acreage:   11,775

Complex Containment:   45 Percent                        Total Personnel Assigned:   1,055

Structures Lost to the Fire: 4 homes/9 outbuildings. Structures currently threatened:  83 residential/82 outbuildings

Cost of the Incident to Date:  $10.2 million

Resources:  35 crews/36engines/12 dozers/15 water tenders/8 helicopters

Ownerships involved: Private, U.S. Forest Service, City of The Dalles, Bureau of Land Management and industrial lands owned by SDS Lumber.

Cooperators include Oregon Department of Forestry, Oregon State Fire Marshal, BLM, USDA Forest Service, City of The Dalles, Wasco County Sheriff’s Office, WascoCountyEmergencyOperationsCenter, Hood River County Division of Emergency Management, Hood River County Sheriff’s Office, American Red Cross, Oregon National Guard, Oregon State Police and SDS Lumber.

Fire Ban now in affect through September 30th in The Gorge

July 15, 2013 by:

Skamania, Klickitat, Hood River, and Wasco county all now have fire bans in place until September 30th, 2013. Burning is banned with the exception of recreational fires in approved fire pits within designated state, county, municipal or other campgrounds. The use of gas and propane BBQ’s and self contained stoves are allowed.

Burning Ban The Gorge September 30th, 2013


Fire season in The Gorge, rural fire safety tips from FEMA and U.S. Fire Administration

July 11, 2013 by:
Fire season in The Gorge, advice and safety tips from FEMA and US Fire Administration

Fire season in The Gorge, advice and safety tips from FEMA and US Fire Administration

The Gorge 2013 fire season is upon us. Hood River Fire receives about 1500 calls for help a year and out of that around 200 are fire related. The safer we can keep our farms, businesses and homes the less risk is involved for all including the Emergency crews who risk their lives to help our community stay safe. It is especially important to be ready and educated if you live far from town or the Fire Dept. In Hood River the fire fighting team of staff and volunteers are  equipped with various fire apparatus including a 2011 Pierce Velocity 95′ mid-mount tower platform, a 2010 Pierce Velocity PUC fire engine, 1998 Pierce Saber fire engine 1998 Pierce Saber Quint 65′ telesquirt for the larger jobs.

Please take a moment and save this fire safety article and share with your house mates or children. We have put together a few little facts, safety tips and local fire resource numbers for your home. Have a great summer and keep it safe!

Advice & Fire Facts  from U.S. Fire Administration & FEMA

About 3,500 Americans die each year in fires and about 18,300 are injured. You can stop the fire before it starts. Use this fact sheet to learn how to prevent a fire in your home and know what to do if you have a fire.

Stop the rural fire before it starts:

  • Burning yard waste is a fire hazard. Call your fire department on their non-911 number for fire permit requirements and restricted burning times.
  • Have your chimney inspected and cleaned regularly by a certified specialist.
  • When building a home or addition, use fire-resistant roofing materials. Avoid using wood materials that offer the least fire protection. Use fire-resistant siding like stucco, brick, stone, etc.
  • Create a landscape that can defend your property from fire. You can defend you home from wild fires by thinning trees and brush at least 30 feet away from your home.
  • Stack firewood at least 30 feet away from your home and other structures.
  • Store flammable materials, liquids, and solvents in metal containers outside the home, at least 30 feet away from structures and wooden fences.

Be prepared for a fire:

  • One of the best ways to protect yourself and your family is to have a working smoke alarm that can sound fast for both a fire that has flames, and a smoky fire that has fumes without flames. It is called a “Dual Sensor Smoke Alarm.” A smoke alarm greatly reduces your chances of dying in a fire.
  • Make sure emergency vehicles have access to your home by having driveways and roadways at least 12 feet wide with turnaround space.
  • Post home address signs that are clearly visible from the road.
  • Prepare an escape plan and practice it twice a year. Make sure everyone in your family knows at least two (2) escape routes from their bedrooms.

To learn more on how you can prevent fires and fire deaths, please contact your local fire department’s office phone number (not 911) or visit

Home Fire Escape Drill for Parents

  • Crawl low to avoid heat and smoke.
  • Feel doors with the back of your hand before opening them. Do not open the door if it feels hot – use your second exit get out fast.
  • Meet outside and then call 911 for help.
  • Stay outside no matter what – don’t go back for anything.

Hood River Fire / EMS
1785 Meyer Pkwy
P.O. Box 27
Hood River, Or. 97031
(541) 386-3939 – Phone

Other Local Fire Departments

Bingen Fire Department PO Box 607112 N Ash St.Bingen, WA 98605(509) 493-2212

Cascade Locks Fire Department 505 WA NA Pa St Cascade Locks, OR 97014(541) 374-8510

Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue 1400 W. 8th St.The Dalles, OR 97058-4116(541) 296-9445

Mosier Fire Department 210 Oregon StMosier, OR 97040 (541) 478-4335

Parkdale Fire Department 4895 Baseline DrMt Hood Parkdale, OR 97041-8704 (541) 352-6092

West Side Fire Department 1185 Tucker Rd.Hood River, OR 97031 (541) 386-5551

WyEast Fire District 3431 Odell Highway Hood River, Oregon 97031 P.O. Box 56 Odell, Oregon 97044 (541) 354-1648

Stevenson City Fire Hall PO Box 371 Stevenson, WA 98648-0371 (509) 427-5552

White Salmon Fire Department 204 Tohomish St., White Salmon, WA 98672 (509) 493-1135

KVH Ambulance 310 S. Roosevelt Goldendale, WA 98620 (509) 773-1026

Skyline Ambulance 211 Skyline Dr. White Salmon, WA 98672 (509) 493-1101

Have you considered volunteering with the Fire Dept? Here’s how-From The City of Hood River Fire Dept, please contact them to verify volunteer needs, but this will give you an idea of what you can look forward to and the process.

Seeking Interested Citizens! (Volunteer Positions)
Have you ever wanted to get involved and make a difference by helping your neighbors and friends? Have you ever considered learning to be an Emergency Medical Technician? How about firefighting? Did you know that the City of Hood River Fire Department employs both Career and Volunteer Firefighter/EMT’s?
In addition to the Hood River Fire Departments Career staff, a group of local residents like yourself provide emergency services to the community, responding to the station from their homes and from work to answer calls for help. Our last recruit academy consisted of 6 of your friends, neighbors and co-workers who now can provide emergency services to their community. Some of those recruits are currently learning to be EMT’s and will soon help provide medical treatment to those in need.
The Fire Departments desire is to recruit approximately 12 additional citizens to supplement the current membership. When joining, all members will be provided basic fire training and those who wish can learn to become EMT Basic’s. Department training is paid for by the Fire Department. Once trained, members are assigned to Companies and respond to those in need of our professional services. Members who become certified as EMT’s then have the opportunity to help staff our three ambulances.
Who are the Department Volunteers? Some are new residents looking for a way to become involved in their community. Others are longtime Hood River residents who have been involved for years. Not sure if you’ll fit? Think again! You may be surprised to learn that Hood River’s Fire Department Volunteer Members are Teachers, Salesmen, Waitresses, Loggers, Truck Drivers, and College Students, with a desire to give a little of their time to serve the community.
If you think you may be interested – don’t wait!!
Take a look at this letter to prospective Volunteers.
Please call the Hood River Fire Department at (541) 386-3939 ext. 214, and leave a message or just come by the station and meet the firefighters!
Click here for directions
Check out our  Volunteer Recruiting guideline and the Volunteer Job Description.
Download a Volunteer application  packet today!
You will also need to complete a release of information, and a release of liability.
Internship Announcement
Hood River Fire & EMS
Internship Announcement
• Up to $10,000 per year of tuition
• Free housing/utilities available
• 48/96 shift schedule
Minimum Requirements:
• Oregon EMT
• At least 18 years of age
• Diploma, GED or Certificate of Advanced Mastery
• NFPA FF 1 trained
• Valid drivers license
• Full time student (12 credits). Preferably in Paramedicine, Fire Science or a Health Care degree program.
The Selection Process:
• Based on results of application, physical agility test, oral interview, and drug screen.
Two Ways to Apply:
1. Email Tony DePinto at [email protected] and request an application packet.
2. Follow the links to the left to print an application packet and Intern Program Goals an Objectives.
Deadline to turn in application is August 10th, 2013

Mail Applications to:
Hood River Fire & EMS
c/o Internship
PO Box 27
Hood River, OR 97031

Long, dry fall aids Columbia Gorge grape crop

October 26, 2012 by:

Columbia Gorge Grapes

The Gorge has not only experienced some fires, it also is expected to have one of the best grape crops in years. Steven Thompson, vigneron at Atavus Vineyards in White Salmon, knows first hand the scare of fire. Twenty acres of the 300-acre property burned, coming within a mere 200 yards of the vineyard. “Such a dry year is bad for fires, but really good for grapes,” he says, referring to his dry-farmed Pinot Noir and Gewurztraminer vines.

See original:

Long, dry fall aids Columbia Gorge grape crop, potential for stellar …

Washougal River Cabin Goes up in Flames

October 9, 2012 by:

Nothing but a chimney was left standing after an early morning blaze at a remote cabin along the Washougal River.  An Idaho woman was in the cabin next door and woke up to what sounded like rain.  She looked out the window, saw light and thought maybe a motion detector was on.  Then she spotted flames and called 9-1-1. Firefighters had to bring water with them to the remote location and used 100 gallons per minute to put out the flames. Nobody was inside the cabin.  It’s a summer home owned by a Vancouver woman. The fire is still under investigation.

From - – fire destroys Washougal river cabin

Here is a video of the blaze

Brush and Grass Fire near Washougal burns nearly 100 acres

October 6, 2012 by:

Wild fire near Washougal’s Steigerwald wildlife Refuge, burns more then 100 acres.

A fire that may have started from a lit cigarette tossed from a passing vehicle on State Route 14 ended up scorching more than 100 acres east of Washougal overnight. According to the Camas Fire Department, the fire started just before 5 p.m. Friday. The call came in as a “brush and grass fire” on the south side of State Route 14, just east of Washougal at the entrance to the Steigerwald Wildlife Refuge.

This article:

Wildland fire near Washougal contained

Crews Fully Contain Hood River Wildfire

September 28, 2012 by:

Crews Fully Contain Hood River Fire

Crews in the Columbia Gorge say they have fully contained the Milepost 66 wildfire along Interstate 84 near Hood River Thursday. Calm winds helped about 120 firefighters and two helicopters hold flames to 70 acres, said Erin Black, a Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area spokeswoman. Crews are monitoring hot spots and are still investigating the cause of the blaze, which began Tuesday.

View the original here -

Crews fully contain Hood River wildfire

Milepost 66 Wild Fire Smoke Makes Its Way West Near Camas and Washougal

September 28, 2012 by:

I went for a hike today at the Cape Horn trail. On my way there, I reached the Cape horn lookout, west of the trail head a few miles, and it was pretty thick with smoke. This lookout at Cape Horn is one of the most photographed spots in the entire Columbia River Gorge. Below I have included a shot of this area on a typical day, along with what is looks like today.  The smoke did not actually prevent us from hiking and we enjoyed ourselves immensely, despite the smoke and lack of view. We also now all smell like camp fire, but perhaps that is better then the sweaty humans we smelled like before that.

Cape Horn lookout typical day


Cape Horn lookout smoke filled from Mile Post 66 fire 40 miles to the east.


September 28, 2012. Excerpt  by Kenny Bavoso, Co-founder of and, which looks to help Collaborative Organizations Of Purpose.


Images of The Mile Post 66 Fire

September 27, 2012 by:

Images of the Mile Post 66 wild fire, between Hood River and Mosier in The Columbia River Gorge.

See the original post -

Mile Post 66 Fire Images

Milepost 66 Fire Report

September 27, 2012 by:

My good buddy, Ross Henry, of White Salmon Washington, reported that there is a lot of smoke in the air today (more than with any other fire this season). He says the fire is located between Hood River and Mosier, near the paved bike trail that runs between these two towns, high up on the hill, known as the Mark Hatfield Trail. This trail is part of the Old Columbia River Hwy. Today known as Columbia River Drive and shown on the map below.  “Luckily it is not windy up here today”, he said. This fire is known as the Milepost 66 fire. It is reported to be 70 acres in size and 5 percent contained as of Wednesday night. From news accounts, it also sounds like this fire may have been human caused, but and investigation is still in progress. Forecast does call for increased winds in the area tomorrow, but still fairly light, with NW winds of around 7-9 mph. Local reports also indicated that I-84 is still open between Mosier and Hood River, though I can only guess to expect delays. Air quality is also a concern today.

Columbia River Dr. between Hood River and Mosier. also known as the Mark Hatfield Trail, or Old Columbia River Hwy.

September 27, 2012. Written by Kenny Bavoso of Washougal, Washington