Rowena Fire creeps closer to The Dalles outskirts

A golf cart rolls through a smoky green at The Dalles Country Club Wednesday afternoon. Highway 30 was closed just past the driveway to the club due to the Rowena fire, which is making it's way southeast from Rowena.

An estimated 275 houses are threatened by the spreading Rowena Fire and 75 households have been advised to immediately evacuate their homes between the 5500 block and 6200 block of Highway 30, according to fire authorities, reporting this afternoon, Aug. 6.

The Highway 30 fire closure has also extended further east. The highway is now closed beyond The Dalles Country Club. About 200 residents from the 4800 to 5500 blocks of Highway 30 are under Level 1 warning to prepare to evacuate in the event conditions become more severe.

The Level 1 evacuation notification area includes Murray’s Addition, Foley Lakes, Simonelli Road, Tooley Terrace and Adeline Way.

“Our two biggest concerns, one is protecting the structures in Rowena and The Dalles, and another is keeping it from going too far east,” said Dave Wells, fire command spokesperson.

A red flag warning is in effect some miles east of The Dalles, Wells said, and fire managers hope to keep the Rowena Fire from reaching that extreme stage.

The fire was still at the 150 to 200-acre range as of the last update at noon today, but the wind was picking up.

Firefighters face a variety of challenges in battling the fire, which is burning in steep, rugged terrain under dry, windy weather conditions. The elements and landscape aren’t the only hazards they have to look out for, Wells said. Safety concerns reported at the last briefing included rolling rocks, snags from previous burns, poison oak, yellow jackets, hornets, ticks and rattlesnakes.

“Some of those critters really get a bit angry when it gets all smoked in,” Wells said.

Pulling in resources for the fire is also a big challenge, giving the “incredible” number of fires going on in Oregon, Wells said.

“One good thing for The Dalles and Rowen is that we had an Oregon Department of Forestry Incident Management Team I finishing up on a fire in Spray,” Wells said. “They made the determination that resources could follow the team up without the threat of spreading that fire. They brought in more overhead and management. They also brought in two crews of 40 firefighter each.”

More firefighting crews, helicopters and air tankers are also arriving to work on the fire, Wells said. Fire authorities are also considering bringing in a big tanker like a DC10 or 747 to help get a leg up on the fire.

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