Archer Mountain Fire still 70 percent contained

Full containment of Skamania County blaze expected soon

By Andy Matarrese, Columbian Breaking News Reporter and Emily Gillespie, Columbian Breaking News Reporter

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The Archer Mountain Fire burning in Skamania County remained at 70 percent containment as of Tuesday night.

Fire crews were hopeful they could take advantage of lower temperatures and calmer winds and have the fire fully contained by the end of the day, Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman Nancy Marvin said, but an assessment of containment was unavailable before press time Tuesday night.

The Archer Mountain Fire started as a spot fire from the Eagle Creek Fire when an ember jumped the Columbia River and ignited the blaze Sept. 5, and has since grown to about 260 acres, or less than a half a square mile.

About 108 people were fighting the fire.

Eagle Creek Fire

The Eagle Creek Fire in Oregon remained at 11 percent contained and about 35,600 acres, or about 56 square miles, in size as of Tuesday evening.

Western-shifting winds Tuesday meant increased smoke from eastern areas of the fire, with some smoke coming from fire backing south into the Herman Creek drainage, according to fire managers.

The fire did not cross the creek, or create any new threats.

More than 900 people are fighting the fire.

Cooler temperatures and higher humidity are expected for the fire area Wednesday, but no appreciable precipitation is forecast.

The seven-day forecast shows rain is on the horizon for the western Columbia River Gorge.

A half-inch to an inch of rain is expected to fall in the western Columbia River Gorge late Sunday night through Tuesday, National Weather Service meteorologist Tyree Wilde said.

Many in Multnomah and Hood River counties remain under evacuation notices of varying severity because of the blaze. Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese told a crowd at a community meeting Monday that the agency hoped to let evacuees return to their homes soon. If fire lines hold as winds shift in the coming days, he said, deputies may allow staged re-entry to evacuated areas.

Interstate 84 is still closed in Oregon between Hood River and Troutdale because of fire danger and falling rocks, Oregon Department of Transportation officials said. Inspections have shown little damage to bridges and culverts along the freeway near the fire.

Workers so far have removed about 2,500 trees in danger of tumbling onto the freeway, officials said Monday.

The U.S. Forest Service has also prohibited most people from entering a large swath of the Oregon side of the Gorge.

The order applies to anyone trying to use the area other than Bonneville Power Administration employees, Army Corps of Engineer staff, firefighters and fish hatchery workers.