The third structure fire within a week occurred Saturday in Hood River.
Aug. 11 saw a destructive blaze in a Hood River residential neighborhood, on Aug. 14 came a garage fire in a rural area west of Hood River, and the latest was at the edge of a cliff, mostly unreachable by foot.
The 11:30 p.m. fire Saturday destroyed Lucy’s House, a venerable structure named for Lucy Cranmer, former owner of the Vagabond Inn, now Westcliff Lodge. Lucy’s is accessible down a 200-foot path and footbridge and offers bird’s-eye views of the Columbia.
By Monday afternoon, only a few personnel remained and the fire was in mopup.
The fire spread east to trees and brushy areas, and Westcliff Lodge was evacuated starting at about midnight, with most guests relocating either to Portland or to other accommodations in Hood River, according to owner Grant Polson.
“It’s a piece of history. We’re sad to lose it, but fortunately no one was hurt and our guests were all okay,” Polson said of Lucy’s House, which was built in 1982 as a retirement home for Cranmer and her husband, the late Jerry Cranmer, but “never really retired,” Polson said. He owns the house but it is managed as a vacation rental by Arrive Now.
The fire is under investigation by ODFW, according to West Side fire marshal Jim Trammell, who said Monday that indications suggest the first started below Lucy’s House and that the structure was a victim of the fire.
Helicopters spent Saturday pouring water on the cliff in front of Westcliff Lodge, providing a show for guests of the Columbia Gorge Hotel, just east, which was put on evacuation notice but unaffected.
Westcliff Road was closed most of the day Sunday from Charburger west as local firefighters and Oregon Department of Forestry and Bureau of Land Management firefighters battled the fire on the ground and from the air.
ODFW, Hood River Fire and EMS, West Side Fire, and Mosier Fire continued working Monday to contain the Westcliff Fire, and all but ODFW stood down by Monday morning.
The fire is located northwest of Hood River near Westcliff Drive, between Interstate 84 and the Columbia River, and the source (in West Side) and burned areas are at an intersection of Hood River Fire and EMS, West Side, and ODFW jurisdictions.
Cool temperatures, low wind, and increased humidity moderated fire behavior through the night and Monday morning, according to an ODFW press release.
The fire is burning in a rugged area of cliffs, making firefighter access difficult.
Steep terrain on the east flank of the fire, with large trees and snags and significant down woody material is a safety concern for firefighters working below as rolling debris moves downslope.
Resources on the fire include structural and wildland engines and structural tenders. Two helicopters took turns dipping into the Columbia and working to douse the fire, focusing on getting water on the east flank of the fire in the cliffy area where access is difficult.
Oregon Department of Forestry is being assisted by the U.S. Forest Service Mt. Hood National Forest and Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area and Washington Department of Natural Resources.
Union Pacific closed the railroad lines north of the fire as a precaution. Firefighters worked near the tracks to establish containment lines. The weather forecast calls for continued dry, hot days. Wildland fuels are extremely flammable under these conditions. Regulated Closure is in effect for ODF’s Central Oregon District. Specific restrictions can be found at www.ODFcentraloregon.com.