Fire evacuation levels lowered for some in Skamania County


The Archer Mountain Fire burning in Skamania County did grow over night but conditions around the fire have improved.

Major roads in Skamania have been reduced from a Level Three evacuation to a Level Two. Meaning people can go back to their homes, but they're encouraged to stay packed and ready to leave again if need be.

After working with the Department of Forestry, Melody Steele saw the Archer Mountain Fire flare up on Monday and knew she had to warn her neighbors.

"Immediately after notifying 911 I started honking my horn, and knocking and face-to-face with everybody on Franz Road," said Steele.

Franz Road is one of the areas that was a Level Three evacuation but has been downgraded to a Level Two. But with horses, dogs and expansive property, Steele never left.

"All these fires I've been in, it's sort of in me to protect the environment and protect people and animals," Steele said.

The Archer Mountain Fire grew to 120 acres overnight, burning at high elevations.

Conditions have drastically improved, and Sheriff Dave Brown is relieved.

"It's the first time in three days we've been able to see across the river," said Sheriff Brown.

While the fire is only six percent contained, Brown says crews have dug dozer lines around most of it and the wind has shifted, improving visibility and allowing helicopters to finally fly in for water drops on both sides of the Columbia River.

Brown says resources are stretched thin, but their efforts are working.

"I think we're monitoring, paying close attention to fire conditions, weather conditions and how it may impact residents over the next few days," Brown said.

Just before 3 p.m. Thursday, some long awaited raindrops began falling in the Columbia River Gorge.

Steele is hopeful things will continue getting better but she's not counting on it.

"You can't ever really drop your guard completely, you know," said Steele.

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