The strong winds are blowing in the Columbia River Gorge, set in the pristine valley of Oregon. The Gorge is also known around the world as a favorite spot for wind surfing, but this season the powerful winds are fueling the out of control Government Flat Fire. The raging inferno has already spread across 8 square miles of land and is still on the rampage.
On Monday at least 70 structures have been evacuated. The American Red Cross has established shelter for residents who have been displaced.
“It’s a very flammable fuel right now, because it’s been dried with lack of moisture, and it’s also been heated from the heat coming up the slope,” states fire supervisor Kelly Niles in his assessment of the dry and brittle landscape. “This stuff, here it’s just ready to explode.”
The Government Flats Fire is now one of 49 large fires burning in 11 western states.
1,150 firefighters are on hand putting out ravaging blazes along with the aid of 14 helicopters. Also, helping to reinforce fire lines is the elite team know as the Hotshots, who recently made news in the Arizona Wildfire disaster killing 19 firefighters.
Oregon State Fire Marshall said currently the Government Flat Fire is as close as one half mile from some structures and 8 percent contained.
Amongst the 3 fires currently raging, is the Douglas Complex Blaze north of Glendale. 50,000 acres have burned and is 75 percent contained. The Big Windy Complex Fire northwest of Galice is 20 percent contained, burning 20,000 acres. The three fires currently raging in Oregon State were started by lightening.
The Oregon Department of Forestry said that they have spent $70 million this year alone on fighting fires, which is far more than is typical.
Written by Lisa Graziano