Residents told to evacuate as wildfire in Columbia River Gorge grows

A wildfire that started between Hood River and The Dalles in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge has grown quickly, prompting mandatory evacuations.

The Oregon Department of Forestry tweeted about the fire near Mosier Creek Road at about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. Gov. Kate Brown announced Wednesday evening that she’d made an emergency declaration to make more resources available.

At about 7 p.m. department spokesperson Christie Shaw estimated the blaze at about 50 acres (20 hectares) but by about 8:15 the forestry department said it had increased to 200 acres (81 hectares).

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According to the Wasco County Sheriff's Office, the fire has now burned at least 500 acres, drawing the response of local and regional fire departments.

Shaw said the blaze started as crews were mopping up another fire in the same area along Interstate 84 near Mosier. She said crews contained that fire at about 2 acres.

Shaw said investigators do not immediately know the cause of either fire.

Winds caused the second fire to spread, and around 6 p.m., the Wasco County Sheriff’s Office issued evacuation orders for people who live on several roads in the Mosier area. Other nearby residents were told to be ready to evacuate if necessary.

Shaw said the department of forestry estimates about 200 structures are threatened by the fire.

The Shilo Inn in The Dalles was made available as a shelter location for people evacuating because of the fire, the sheriff’s office said.

The Columbia River Gorge is America's largest National Scenic Area and forms the boundary between Washington and Oregon.