UPDATE: 'Red flag' fire danger in parts of county

Smoke from wildfires blows through Gorge into area

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Updated: September 3, 2011, 9:18 PM

 
photoLooking east from Oregon Highway 35, a spotter plane makes its way around a burnout Friday to strengthen the northeast perimeter of the Dollar Lake fire on Mt. Hood. By Sunday, the fire had nearly doubled since Saturday, scorching 4,000 acres in Hood River County.

Winds from the east that have been blowing wildfire smoke into the Portland-Vancouver area also have boosted the fire danger in parts of Clark County.

Regional emergency officials said Saturday that the National Weather Service has issued a “red flag” fire warning that will be in effect until 6 p.m. Sunday.

According to the National Weather Service, “A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will shortly. A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures will create explosive fire growth.”

The warning was issued for a zone that includes the Department of Natural Resource lands in east Clark County and all of Skamania County, Cowlitz County, and the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

A Saturday news release from the Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency said: “As often happens in September, we are getting dry east winds filtering through the Gorge and significantly increasing the fire danger.”

Another regional agency issued a similar warning Saturday:

“High temperatures and low relative humidity will quickly increase fire danger in vegetated areas that were green and moist only a short time ago,” warned fire management analysts at the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center. “Expect wildfires to ignite easily, spread rapidly and burn with great intensity.”

Several local fire agencies were busy Saturday, with CRESA dispatchers logging eight fires between 2:40 and 4:40 p.m.

The winds coming down the Columbia River Gorge also are bringing smoke from the east into Clark County.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued a warning Friday that hot east winds could send smoke from wildland fires down the Gorge and into the Portland-Vancouver area.