After the Eagle Creek Fire tore through the Gorge, some people are worried the same thing could happen in Forest Park.
“We were just all holding our breath and really scared,” said George Milne about the Eagle Creek Fire.
Milne is a member of the Trails Club of Oregon. Besides having a love for the Columbia River Gorge, he said the club also owns private property there.
“We lost a good number of our trees and we lost, well, two main buildings and three or four other structures,” Milne said.
Experiencing the devastating effects of the Eagle Creek Fire first-hand, he said he now thinks of another place he holds dear to his heart.
“After that fire, Eagle Creek, I realized lack of access to get in and stop a fire before it gets out of control is what happened in the Gorge and that could happen easily in Forest Park,” he said.
Milne claims Forest Park fire lanes have slowly deteriorated over the years.
“The fire lanes have changed in the fact that they’ve grown over,” he said. “Those aren’t paved roads. They’re dirt roads. And if they tried to take even a pickup-size fire rig in there, they’re going to have a lot of problems.”
On Wednesday, Milne said he and others plan to address City Council. He said one of the things they will discuss is the Forest Park fire lanes.
“We learned a lesson in Eagle Creek and I would just be devastated if we had something like that in the West Hills,” he said.
A spokesperson for Portland Fire & Rescue said the fire lanes are a great tool that give them better access to Forest Park in case of a wildfire.
He said they regularly take four-wheelers on the fire lanes during the summer to make sure there is no storm damage or debris in the way. If they notice any problem, he said they then let Portland Parks & Recreation know about it.
FOX 12 also reached out to Portland Parks. A spokesperson provided a written statement. Currently in Forest Park, PP&R manages fire lanes through regular maintenance to clear any downed trees and remove overhanging vegetation from the access corridor. Standards for access have been developed through our regular communication and ongoing partnership with Portland Fire& Rescue. Both agencies meet at least twice yearly to review communication protocol, mapping needs and any maintenance concerns. Additionally, both PP&R and the Bureau of Environmental Services have been investing in the replacement of culverts along Leif Erickson, a very popular 11-mile interior park road used for maintenance and emergency access when needed (as well as for recreation). In 2018, three critical but failing culverts will be replaced, addressing water quality concerns and improving road stability. Copyright 2018 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.