Columbia River Highway reopens after fire
The Historic Columbia River Highway reopened Thursday afternoon between Ainsworth State Park and Multnomah Falls even as firefighters continued to battle a small wildfire in the Columbia River Gorge.
U.S Forest Service spokesperson Katie Santini said Thursday that the fire is 20 percent contained.
The stretch of the scenic highway about 15 miles east of Troutdale, which provides access to a series of popular waterfalls and trailheads, had been closed since the fire broke out Tuesday evening, July 11.
"Public safety shouldn't be an issue after this afternoon," Santini said of the reopening.
Officials have not determined the cause of the approximately 1-acre fire, which started near Oneonta Falls.
Corbett Fire District, whose crews were first on the scene, called in the U.S Forest Service, which assumed the lead role in battling the blaze.
In addition to water tenders, the Forest Service is using helicopter bucket drops to fight the fire because of the steep, rocky terrain in the area.
Thursday's cool temperatures and overcast skies were helping with fire suppression, especially with the lack of usual winds in the gorge.
Some of the popular hiking trails in the area are also closed, including Oneonta Trail No. 424, Horsetail Falls No. 438, and Gorge Trail No. 400, making Horsetail Falls and Triple Falls inaccessible to visitors.
The Forest Service will do a sweep of the trails once the fire is completely contained, but Santini says trail damage is minimal and they should reopen shortly after the roads. As moss and vegetation burned in the rocky area, some rocks were dislodged and fell.
The highly visited Multnomah Falls remained open during the event.
The Forest Service had asked visitors to stay out of the closed area for their own safety as well as that of the firefighters and pilots.
A temporary flight restriction was imposed over the area for up to 2,300 feet above ground level.
"Please refrain from flying drones in this vicinity," the Forest Service said. "Remember, if you fly we can't."