Corps, BPA dealing with impact of Eagle Creek Fire

Wildfires near Oregon’s Bonneville Dam have prompted the agencies responsible for the project’s operation to take precautionary measures as the blaze continues in the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia River Gorge.

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages Bonneville Dam and the two hydroelectric powerhouses associated with the complex, all but essential and senior-level staff have been removed from the site. The Corps’ two visitor centers at Bonneville have also been closed.

Those who remain have been tasked with patrolling the grounds for fires, though the Corps has said it is running its sprinkler system to help decrease the possibility of flare-ups on its property.

The Corps also said Bonneville’s power generation has not been affected by the fire.

The Bonneville Power Administration, which manages the electrical output from the facility, reported that none of its customers are experiencing outages related to the fire. Earlier this week, however, BPA said it shut one transmission line down to allow for emergency responder safety, while another line shut itself off automatically while the fire burned through underneath. A substation was also temporarily taken off line at the request of the City of Cascade Locks.

With the fire now expanding to the Washington side of the Columbia River, BPA said it is “closely monitoring transmission corridors in the vicinity.”

The U.S Coast Guard has also closed the Columbia River to all boat traffic on the stretch stemming from Portland to the dam.

About the fire
The blaze, called the Eagle Creek Fire, is believed to have been started Saturday by a group of teenagers using fireworks.

Since then, the fire grew to an area of nearly 33,000 acres, according to officials with Portland Fire & Rescue, while also merging with the nearby 1,000-acre Indian Creek Fire on Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday, sparks from Eagle Creek Fire started a new fire on the Washington side of the Columbia River. That fire, called the Archer Mountain Fire, has grown to around 120 acres.

Authorities said today that the fire is still 0-percent contained, though it’s rate of growth has slowed.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for HydroWorld.com.

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