Oregon on Fire!

In an attempt to escape the oppressive heat that we are feeling in Oregon well into what should be the start of fall, my mom, sister, and I retreated to Lincoln City on the central coast of Oregon over Labor Day weekend. We were greeted by 68° weather and overcast skies and it was glorious! We spent three days in and out of Chinook Winds casino, walking on the beach, drinking, eating, drinking more, then eating more, and finally heading back home when we were out of money! In the midst of all that, we even took our turn attempting to escape the Hangin’ Sherriff at Escape Rooms Newport and became only the 10th team to “escape” in the allotted hour since they opened a few months ago. All that time we spent playing games as a family and doing puzzles sure paid off!

Sometime in the middle of our wonderful laid back weekend, we got word that a teenager had been playing with fireworks while hiking on one of the many trails along the Columbia Gorge and had started a forest fire. The Columbia Gorge is one of the most beautiful sights in Oregon and contains many historical landmarks, and countless memories for every Oregonian who has ever visited the Gorge. The fire stranded more than 150 hikers overnight and has caused thousands of residents in the gorge to evacuate. In just three days, the fire grew to over 10,000 acres and literally jumped the Columbia River to Washington causing more evacuations on that side. 

The Columbia Gorge in June, seen from the Bridge of the Gods. This will look a lot different the next time we're able to go this way. 

The Columbia Gorge in June, seen from the Bridge of the Gods. This will look a lot different the next time we're able to go this way. 

Fire Map of Oregon as of 12pm Saturday

Fire Map of Oregon as of 12pm Saturday

We are currently living in Troutdale, OR, a location we picked in many ways for it’s proximity to the Gorge and it’s easy access to I-84 East where we often head to visit family. We never expected that our location, which is still very much a part of the Portland/Gresham suburbs, would be given a level 1 evacuation status due to a wildfire. When I returned home on Tuesday afternoon, the smoke was so thick the whole sky was yellow and ash was falling like snow. When it got dark, the sky had an ominous orange glow. With over 500,000 acres burning in the state of Oregon currently, we have been no stranger to smoke in the air over the summer, but this was unlike anything we’ve seen so far. 

This week KP was planning to continue his travel tips from last week, but I asked if he would let me jump in with this little update about what’s happening now. The fire is still burning, having merged with another fire that had been burning since last month and is now at over 30,000 acres and only 7% contained. 3 homes have burned so far, and hundreds of people are still sheltering at evacuation centers. With so much in the news about Hurricane Harvey and now Irma, it’s incredible to have something like this happening so close to home as well. 

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Here are some of the incredible images of what’s happening to the beautiful Columbia Gorge. They were able to save the historic Mutnomah Falls Lodge, a place where KP and I have celebrated our anniversary and many a post hike meal, and this fact made me more emotional than I would have thought. In the last month, we hiked two of the many trails in the Gorge and it’s crazy to think that those would be unrecognizable to us now, just a couple weeks later. We wish safety and lots of rain for the firefighters working to put out the blaze, and the many other fires burning in Oregon, and we hope that those displaced will be able to return safely to their homes soon!

If you are interested in helping out, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s office has suggested sending financial donations to Red Cross.