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OR wildfire ravages picturesque gorge, ash chokes communities

OR wildfire ravages picturesque gorge, ash chokes communities”

The Eagle Creek fire started Saturday along the Eagle Creek trail, southeast of Cascade Locks and about 50 miles east of Portland.

A growing OR wildfire covered parts of Portland's metropolitan area Tuesday with ash and forced the shutdown of a lengthy stretch of highway through the state's scenic Columbia River Gorge. Footage from Monday on the OR side of the Columbia River Gorge. The blazes over the last several days have created unhealthy air conditions in some areas.

"It's very unusual to have this many fires burning this many acres across such a broad area at this time in September", said Jennifer Jones, a spokeswoman for the National Interagency Fire Center.

"We will continue to patrol and access structural protection needs", said Ian Yocum, Incident Commander with the Oregon State Fire Marshal.

Interstate 84 and the railroad were closed until further notice due to public safety concerns, with smoke causing limited visibility for travelers as well as the potential for rolling debris.

Oregon Department of Transportation will be working with the Unified Command team to determine when the highway will be safe to reopen. The agency said it has identified a 15-year-old boy from Vancouver who is suspected of starting the fire.

Winds have shifted to the west Wednesday, bringing cooler and moister air to the fire area.

It was one of 81 large fires burning in the United States on Tuesday and led authorities to order 400 households in Multnomah County, Oregon, to evacuate.

Wednesday morning, the Skamania County Sheriff's office reported that the fire had grown to around 60 acres, though no structures were threatened by the fire at the time of the update.



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