Firefighters battling the Highway 141 wildfire near White Salmon now have the fire 50 percent contained, fire officials said Saturday.
Investigators said the fire grew 200 acres Friday night to 1,614 acres. Firefighters updated concerned residents on the progress crews have made Saturday morning in the Columbia High School gymnasium.
Evacuation orders for 35 homes have been lowered to a level two evacuation, meaning residents can return home but must stay on standby in case the fire flares up again.
Weather conditions cooperated Friday and Saturday, but a shift in the weather Sunday is expected to bring wind gusts up to 30 mph to the area surrounding the small town of Husum. That means fire crews will work the next two days to strengthen the fire line, so when winds pick up, the wildfire won't burn out of control.
The fire started Wednesday afternoon as four separate fires. Crews put two out, but the other two merged. Initially estimated at 1,500 acres in size, firefighters now think the fire is 1,200 acres. No buildings have been destroyed.
"I grew up on this hill, I hunted up here all my life," said Trout. "It's pretty surreal seeing it burn up like this. Never seen anything like it around this area."
The Columbia High School football game against Toledo has been moved to Toledo High School as a result of the smoky conditions in the area.
A community meeting took place Saturday morning at Columbia High School to update residents on the progress of the fire fight.
East wind drives smoke into Portland metro area
Portland firefighters said they have received a large number of calls from people in east Multnomah County who are concerned about smoke in the area.
The smoke is coming from the Highway 141 Fire, and officials said Portland is likely to see the smoky conditions until the fire goes out or the wind shifts.
Fire officials recommend taking the following precautions to minimize exposure to the smoke:
- If you smell smoke and/or are beginning to experience symptoms, consider temporarily locating to another area as long as it is safe for you to do so.
- Seek out locations where air is filtered. For example, heading to the local mall, movie theater or recreation center can provide some temporary relief. Local health officials often can help locate places with better air quality during extended smoke episodes.
- Close windows and doors and stay indoors. However, do not close up your home tightly if it makes it dangerously warm inside.
- Only if they are filtered, run the air conditioning, the fan feature on your home heating system (with the heat turned off) or your evaporative cooler. Keep the outdoor air intake closed and be sure the filter is clean. Filtered air typically has less smoke than the air outdoors. Running these appliances if they are not filtered can make indoor smoke worse.
- If you have any HEPA room air filtration units, use them.
- In smoky air, try to reduce your physical activity level. Avoid exercise or other strenuous activities in heavy smoke. If smoke is simply unpleasant or mildly irritating, changing the timing of a few activities may be all that is necessary.
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