Human-Caused Columbia River Gorge Fire Prompts Evacuations

Two fire apparatus

MOSIER, Ore. (AP) — A wildfire burning in the scenic Columbia River Gorge has grown to more than 800 acres and is threatening hundreds of homes.

The fire broke out Wednesday afternoon in the community of Mosier, Oregon, which is between Hood River and The Dalles along Interstate 84. It had burned 791 acres (320 hectares) as of Thursday morning. About 900 homes were threatened with people in about 150 of those homes told to leave their homes immediately, KGW-TV reported.

The blaze, named the Mosier Creek fire, was human-caused, according to The Northwest Interagency Coordination Center.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Wednesday invoked the Emergency Conflagration Act, making more state resources available to fire crews. The state fire marshal’s office assumed command Thursday.

The Wasco County Sheriff’s Office ordered evacuations along several roads in Mosier. A hotel in The Dalles is available as a shelter.

Charles Keller told KGW-TV he’s lived in Mosier a long time and this is the first time he’s had to evacuate.

“It was chaotic,” Keller said. “The last thing you want to hear is a Level 3 (evacuation notice). It’s a scary deal.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Thursday it had authorized the use of federal money to help with firefighting costs.

Christie Shaw, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Forestry, said the fire started as crews were mopping up another blaze in the same area. She said winds caused the Mosier Creek fire to spread.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued an air quality advisory Thursday for The Dalles, Mosier and Hood River area because of smoke from the fire. The agency expects the air quality advisory to last until at least Saturday morning.

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