As of Tuesday, September 19, 2017
CASCADE LOCKS, Ore. A suspect has been identified regarding the cause of the Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge, but the investigation continues, and Oregon officials are seeking help from the public.
The suspect has been identified as a 15-year-old boy from Vancouver, Wash., officials said.
It is believed he and others may have been using fireworks, which started the forest fire along the Eagle Creek Trail, officials said..
The suspect was contacted by law enforcement in the parking lot of the trailhead and was interviewed, officials said. The Oregon State Police is seeking witnesses or those with related information.
Anyone who heard fireworks or other explosions in the area of the Eagle Creek Trail/Punch Bowl Falls between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Sept. 2 is asked to contact Oregon State Police at 503-375-3555.
The agency is being assisted by the U.S. Forest Service, Hood River District Attorney’s Office, U.S. Attorney’s Office and Hood River Juvenile Department.
This investigation is continuing and no arrests or formal charges have been made, officials said, noting the identity of the boy is currently being withheld.
While the investigation continues, fire crews are still trying to get a handle on the blaze.
Very little heat has been observed in the spot fires on the west end of the fire, officials said yesterday.
Firefighters yesterday concentrated their efforts on the Interstate 84 corridor, burning out small pockets of fuel west of Cascade Locks.
The interstate remained closed to traffic.
Controlled burns sent up visible smoke, but the fire is not creating any new threats, according to fire officials.
South of Cascade Locks, crews secured and mopped-up around structures and infrastructure. A containment line has been cleared along the powerline corridor to Shell Rock Mountain.
Contingency lines have been established from Mitchell Point southwest to Wahtam Lake using a series of roads, trails, and dozer line, fire officials said.
Along the southern portion of the fire, fire activity has been subdued the last 48 hours due to moisture.
Weather yesterday was warmer and drier than previous days and winds were light, out of the east. There is a shift predicted today with winds turning westerly.
The change may bring smoke into different areas, as firefighters continue to strengthen lines along the I-84 corridor. Temperatures will continue to increase but remain within seasonal averages.
The fire is holding at 33,382 acres and is 7 percent contained, officials said.
Helicopters have increased their flying time over the last several days as smoke levels have slightly subsided. Suppression efforts via aircraft will continue until it is unsafe to fly.