Westcliff Fire 8/20 evening update

Steep, rugged terrain has slowed mop-up work on the Westcliff Fire.  Yesterday firefighters held the fire within the containment lines, and were able to improve control to 75%.   Evacuation orders were reduced yesterday, however some areas remain under a Level 1 (Be Ready) evacuation.  Updates are available from the Hood River County Sheriff at www.facebook.com/hrcso/.

Safety is the highest priority.  Because of the cliffy nature of the terrain firefighters are being extra cautious in their actions on the fire.  Potential rolling debris is a concern as crews grid through the fire interior.  They must constantly be watching for crew members below and hazards above.  During mop-up they dislodge material and mix water with dirt and burning fuels, thus increasing the potential for hazards to shift downslope.

Timber fallers were able to fall several trees which still had live fire burning within the canopy.  A Type 1 helicopter was then used to drop water on the flames to reduce the heat and allow firefighters to fully extinguish the heat.  The trees fell within the existing fire perimeter.

Resources on the fire yesterday were four wildland engines, a pair of timber fallerss, and a 20-person crew.  Two helicopters, a Type 1 and Type 3 were available as needed to support the suppression activities. The engines and crew will return to the fire today.

Union Pacific train traffic is moving through the area slowly, coordinating with firefighters as it enters the area.  Firefighters are also watching to ensure no debris has rolled onto the tracks.

The fire was reported around midnight Saturday night.  It is located northwest of Hood River near Westcliff Drive, between Interstate 84 and the Columbia River.

The weather forecast calls for continued dry hot days.  Please remember that wildland fuels are extremely flammable under these conditions.  Regulated Closure is in effect for ODF’s Central Oregon District.  Specific restrictions can be found at www.ODFcentraloregon.com.