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Mosier Creek Fire 45% contained, as officials issue thunderstorm warnings

A wildfire that has destroyed dozens of structures and sent plumes of smoke into the air above the Columbia River Gorge is now 45% contained as of Sunday morning, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry. The Mosier Creek Fire has burned 985 acres.

The fire, located in Wasco County, is in the Mosier Creek area of the Columbia River Gorge, between Hood River and The Dalles.

According to the latest information from the Department of Forestry, no one was injured, but 37 structures were destroyed as of Sunday morning. Over 600 structures are still threatened by the fire.

Oregon Department of Forestry officials described Sunday as an active weather day, and said red flag warnings for thunderstorms have been issued across the region. Fire managers are keeping an eye on high temperatures, gusty winds and potential lightning that could threaten the progress of those fighting the fire.

The fire started Wednesday afternoon and spread in a canyon of dry grass and oak trees. The Northwest Interagency Coordination Center confirmed Thursday that the fire was human-caused and is under investigation. Local authorities issued Level 3 evacuation notices Wednesday afternoon for nearby residents. By Thursday afternoon, more than 900 people had evacuated the area.

According to the Wasco County Sheriff’s Office, Level 3 evacuations were in place for all of Paradise Ridge Place Road and everyone west of State road, from Evergreen Terrace to Dry Creek Rd.

Level 3 means “go” or “evacuate now,” while lower levels indicate being “ready” or being “set” to go at a moment’s notice.

As of Saturday, WCSO announced the following areas were lowered from Level 3 to Level 2, among residences on the west side of State Road: Davenport Road, Root Road, Morgensen Road, Howe Road, Walker Farm Road, Firecrest Road and Ridgeview Road.

Officials said those affected by the Mosier Creek Fire can receive Red Cross assistance at The Shilo Inn in The Dalles and may seek shelter. Volunteers were on site Saturday to provide immediate basic needs to those evacuated from their homes.

The Wasco County Sheriff’s Office also indicated the potential for power outages Sunday due to the fire, as it is burning close to Bonneville Power Administration power lines. While a low risk, firefighting efforts could require power to be shut off in western Wasco County and parts of Hood River County for the firefighters’ safety.

In Bend, fire crews responded to the Juniper Ridge Fire, a wildland fire north of town that threatened several mobile home parks and commercial buildings. Bend Fire and Rescue said on Twitter that it had stopped forward progress of the fire Saturday evening. The fire burned 35 acres.

The fire produced a large plume of black smoke, consuming two dozen cars in a nearby junkyard, the fire department said.

According to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, an estimated 500 locations received Level 3 evacuation notices, and another 120 locations received Level 1 notices through the weekend.

As of Sunday morning, Level 3 evacuation notices for Four Seasons Mobile Park along Highway 97, including the Beechcraft Lane area, were reduced to Level 1. Level 3 notices for residences north of Cooley Road and east of Highway 97 were also dropped Saturday evening.

The Red Cross established a temporary evacuation center at St. Francis of Assisi Church on Northeast 27th Street in Bend.

Copyright 2020 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Donald Orr