Eagle Creek

This photo was taken about forty miles from Portland, almost an hour ago (EDIT: By which I mean Monday night, around 10:30): 


They’ve closed the major highway that’s next to the river, I-84 (this photo was taken from the opposite bank of the Columbia River). They had to evacuate several towns, and rescue 140 hikers. The most recent estimate I can find is 4,800 acres are on fire. 

The sun has been red all day. The moon is so obscured by smoke it’s dark red and barely visible even though it’s only a few days from full. 

It’s raining ash so heavily in Portland that people are comparing it to the ash fall after Mt. St. Helens blew in 1980. Right now, at night, in the headlights of cars it looks just like snow flurries. On my two-mile bicycle ride home I kept having to blink it out of my eyes (it feels like sand, almost). It’s collecting on flat surfaces. I tried to breathe through my nose but then my nose ran too much–I’ll probably ride to work tomorrow with a scarf over my face. I kinda wish I had either prescription swimming goggles or a snowboarding mask or something. 

Only a third of houses in Portland have a/c and it’s super hot still; I can’t imagine being someone with asthma and no a/c right now. Just the bike ride home gave me a mild sore throat. 

Pika (aka barking mouse bunnies) make their home in the Columbia River Gorge. It’s one of the most beautiful parts of Oregon and Washington. And a huge stretch of it is currently on fire–because some fucking dipshit on a hike at Eagle Creek set off fireworks, despite the fact that we’ve had zero rain for like two fucking months. 

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Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge, the area known for Multnomah Falls was set on fire yesterday by kids lighting off fireworks and is causing massive issues from smoke and ash to major evacuations of stranded hikers and towns full of scared and worried people. This is devastating both in loss of beauty and nature and of memories and homes of many folks here. Please send love. This is scary.

I’m literally in tears right now. This is Multnomah Falls, Oregon. A couple of days ago some teenagers set off fireworks in the forest near here and it started a wildfire that’s now engulfed more than 4,800 acres. Because of our unseasonable lack of rain, and the strong winds we’re getting currently the blaze has managed to even cross over the Columbia River Gorge and into Washington. This is my favourite place on earth. I have had so much fun in these places; it’s some of the most beautiful nature we have here in Oregon. I can’t stand the fact that it’s never going to be quite the same.

So many people have been evacuated from their homes.
The sun and moon have been blood red for days. 
It’s literally raining a fine later of ash over our towns. 

It just hurts to see all this destruction. I love this place, and these people shouldn’t be being ripped from their homes. I’m exhausted. 

Oregon is burning and I’m ducking heartbroken. Multnomah falls, historics sites, old growth forests, gone, gone, gone.

However, that’s not what’s important right this moment. We can mourn later, PDX. What is important is this number right here.

An AQI of 246 is classified as VERY UNHEALTHY. This means that perfectly healthy people can have serious health effects from this level of pollution if they do not take precautions. Children, the elderly, asthmatics, and people with heart disease are at serious risk in these conditions.

Darlings of PDX and other effected areas of Oregon, it is IMPERATIVE that you stay inside, if at all possible. I have a friend that STILL has bronchitis from the last time we were dealing with high levels of smoke and that wasn’t even this severe.

If you cannot stay inside, you need to understand that painters masks or a cloth over your face WILL NOT HELP. You need a mask rated for N99. This means that is filters out 99% of particulate that is .3 microns in size. This is extremely important because smaller particulate is more harmful to the lungs and many masks are not rated for it!

Amazon sells both disposable 3M N99 masks and reusable N99 Vogmasks, both of which can be ordered with overnight shipping.

Please, my dears, take care of yourselves! If at all possible, remain inside. If not possible, wear masks that will actually protect you.

I’m so worried about all of the homeless in Portland right now that may not have either of these options.

Multnomah Falls is going to burn

It is one of the most beautiful spots in one of the most beautiful regions of Oregon: the Columbia River Gorge.  Wildfires are currently raging out of control in the Gorge; a 48-mile section of Interstate 84 has been shut down, and many towns are under evacuation.  At last report, the fires are only five miles from Multnomah Falls, a place I have so many beloved memories of.

Before it burns, I want you to see it in its full splendor.

I rarely post anything about where I live, but the Eagle Creek Fire is exceptionally close. It’s less than 30 minutes from my home. It is currently over 10,000 acres and evacuations are growing rapidly. The top is a picture on a normal day the bottom is last night. It was beautiful. The worst part of it all? It was completely stoppable. A group of teenagers decided to throw fireworks off a cliff (reportedly) during the middle of a heat wave. I’m not asking for donations or anything. Just please think before starting fires, even campfires and perfectly normal legal fires. Educate your kids and friends.

Please keep Oregon, Washington and Montana in your thoughts. Especially our firefighters

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The Terrifying Physics Of How Wildfires Spread So Fast

“All of this served to create a huge amount of potential "fuel” for wildfire season. Coupled with the warm, dry summers that the pacific northwest experiences — and it’s been uncommonly warm this year — that fuel becomes easily combustible. Oxygen is never a problem in this region of the country, and the Columbia Gorge in particular is notorious for breezes and continuously-moving air. That means, during the dry season, where you have lots of highly flammable plant matter to serve as fuel, oxygen to keep it burning, and high temperatures and winds to help spread the fire, all you need is something to ignite it. In 80% of situations, that’s a negligent or malicious human.“

On September 2nd, a group of teenagers were lighting fireworks in the Columbia Gorge near Eagle Creek. They would light them and attempt to throw them into the river, playing a game of "let’s try to almost-but-not-quite commit devastating arson.” Guess how that game ended? With a catastrophic wildfire that, four days later, now engulfs over 10,000 acres, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people, creating millions in damage, and threatening the city of Portland, OR. It’s not just the spark that caused this devastation, but rather the conditions that set it up. Extremely wet, rainy winters and spring lead to a tremendous amount of new plant growth, while the hot, dry summers have turned that growth into potential fuel. Add oxygen, which is free and abundant, and a single spark, and a fast-spreading fire ensues. Throw in the winds inherent to the gorge, and an 80-mile stretch is already up in flames.

Here’s the terrifying physics of how wildfires spread so fast, including how it jumped the Columbia River into Washington State! 

The fire in the Columbia River Gorge has been burning for 3 days and is getting closer and closer to my area. I live just outside of Gresham, so I’m hoping I’ll be fine, but there’s smoke and ash everywhere and all of my favorite scenic places are burning down. The freeway nearest to my house is now completely closed. My anxiety is so high. We need rain so bad. People are being forced to leave their homes and this fire has destroyed 4,800 acres already. All because some selfish idiot decided to play with fireworks in the forest. This is devastating.

Not A Walking Photo But Just An Update On The Big Awful Fire: As of this morning, Tuesday 9/6, the fire had consumed 33,000 acres and it is still not contained. But firefighters saved the area surrounding Multnomah Falls including its iconic Multnomah Falls Lodge, and the fire’s pace had slackened somewhat.

This photo, definitely not mine, was taken today by Tom Williams and shows the crew that has been working to fight the fire surrounding Multnomah Falls. You can see that they heroically managed to keep some of the green area in the immediate vicinity of the waterfall, while at the same time you can also see all that smoke. Still smoky here in Portland today, and rain is kind of a distant hope right now.

You might be interested in this time-lapse video of the fire’s rapid growth on Monday night and into Tuesday morning. Source is Oca Hoeflein, via KGW News.

Since this isn’t getting much national news coverage, I need to share.

My home is on fire. Not my house, but my home. The top photo is of the Columbia River Gorge on the Oregon/Washington border. The bottom photo is of it last night.

I grew up moving around a lot, and I learned to fall in love with places instead of structures. The Gorge is the reason I stayed local for college–I couldn’t bear to not have it within an hour drive. It has been my place of solace when my world has fallen apart. It is the one place where I feel my soul is at peace.

And it is on fire. Some kids playing with firecrackers, and somewhere over 5,000 acres are on fire. I live in SE Portland. My sky is smoke, and ash is covering everything. I keep coughing despite keeping everything closed and staying in doors.

This happened because we keep having absurdly dry summers. The Columbia Gorge is known for its rivers, streams, and waterfalls. It is covered in rich green moss, and some places back in the hills have dripping water off rocks onto hiking paths year round.

Below is a photo I took in March–those are misty clouds, because it rained the whole day. This is approximately where the fire started, in Eagle Creek. This is my home, and I honestly don’t think it will ever be the same in my lifetime. My heart is broken.

Top photo credit: Jarom Barela