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Firefighters push for containment as winds hold back

Evacuations remain in effect, firefighters gain on containment

Fire Update: Westerly winds predicted earlier today have been lighter than expected and the Blackburn Fire within the Government Flat Complex did not grow significantly during Thursday’s day shift. Fire crews took full advantage of this opportunity to again attempt to establish containment of the stubborn west end of this 11,040 acre blaze. The north, east, and south sides of the fire remain generally calm and firefighters are continuing to extinguish hot spots and protect structures in these areas.

With Friday’s weather forecast again calling for westerly gusts of up to 30 miles per hour in the evening, conditions will remain at critical levels, with potential for extreme fire behavior and rapid rates of spread. The Blackburn Fire has the potential to become plume-dominated (with a developed column overriding the local environmental influences)and slope-driven. Strong winds out of the west, combined with steep canyon slopes will challenge firefighters attempting to contain the blaze. Fire officials have stated there is a low to moderate risk the fire will move to the east and northeast through the North Fork Mill Creek drainage towards Ketchum Road and Thompson Ridge.

Containment of the three-fire, 11,335 acre, Government Flat Complex has increased to 20 percent.

Evacuation Notifications Summary: The following evacuation notifications have been issued by the Wasco County Sheriff’s Office and the Hood River County Division of Emergency Management:

Level III (GO NOW)

Residents on Mosier Creek Road between addresses 2855 to 3475 and any side roads.

Residents on Godberson Road within three miles of the southern end of Godberson Road and any side roads.

Residents on Ketchum Road.

Residents on Vensel Road to the Osburn Cut-Off and any side roads.

Level II (Get Set)

Residents on Chenoweth Road between Vensel Road and Browns Creek Road and any side roads.

Residents for ALL of Browns Creek Road and any side roads.

Residents for the 5000 block of Cherry Heights to Browns Creek Road.

Wells Road and any side roads

Upper Mill Creek Road east to the 6500 block of Mill Creek Road.

Orbrist Road.

Level I (Get Ready)

--New-- A Level I evacuation notice has been issued for Fir Mountain Road east of the irrigation ditch, Fir Mountain Loop, and Swyers Drive. This notice affects approximately 20 residences.

When you hear the terms Level I, II, or III evacuation notice, remember “ready, set, go.” Level I means be aware of the fire in your area and start getting ready, Level II means make final preparations and get and set to evacuate, and Level III means evacuate immediately—GO NOW.

The American Red Cross has established an evacuation center at their office, 507 West 9th Street, The Dalles. Please register on their Safe and Well program either at the center or on line at www.redcross.org. Their public number is (888) 680-1455.

For information regarding evacuation notices, please contact the Wasco County Sheriff’s Office at 541-506-2580 or the Hood River County Division of Emergency Services at 541-386-1213 during business hours.

The Mt. Hood National Forest has announced the following closures:

The following campgrounds are closed: Knebal Springs, Lower Eight Mile Crossing, Eight Mile, and Gibson Prairie. Five Mile Lookout is also closed.

The following major trails are closed:

Surveyors Ridge # 688 both south and north trailheads

Eightmile Loop #496

Knebal Springs # 474

Bottle Prairie #455

North-South #451

Oak Ridge #688A

Dog River #675

Zig Zag #678

Forest Roads 17, 1720, 4430 and all their associated spur roads are closed along with and all other National Forest System Roads and minor trails within the closure area depicted on a map posted on InciWeb.org at http://inciweb.org/incident/maps/3662/

For more information on Mt. Hood National Forest Road closures, please contact the Hood River Ranger District during business hours at: Telephone: 541-352-6002

Other developments:

A total of four residences and nine outbuildings were destroyed or damaged since the fire began on August 16.

Structural fire engines and firefighters are continuing to secure and patrol homes and other structures along Obrist, Upper Mill Creek, and Reservoir roads, as well as the water treatment plant.

The fire has burned onto the Mt. Hood National Forest and into Hood River County. It has been burning on a mix of private ownership, City of The Dalles ownership, and Bureau of Land Management.

Total personnel assigned to the fire now total 1,008

Earlier today, the Incident Commanders for the Complex expressed thanks to the citizens of Wasco County and City of the Dalles for their expressions of support for firefighters and support personnel assigned to the fires. They also encouraged those wishing to make donations to consider cash donations to the American Red Cross, Wildland Firefighter Foundation, and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. For more information, please go to: http://inciweb.org/incident/article/3662/20703/.

Total costs to date for fire suppression are estimated at $6.6 million.

The fire complex is being managed under a unified command of Oregon Department of Forestry Incident Management Team 3 (Incident Commander, Chris Cline) and Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Green Team (Incident Commander, John Ingrao).

Cooperators working the incidents include Oregon Department of Forestry, Oregon State Fire Marshall’s Office, BLM, USDA Forest Service, City of The Dalles, Wasco County Sheriff’s Office, Wasco County Emergency Operations Center, American Red Cross, Oregon National Guard, and Oregon State Police.

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