Speed Reads

Nature's Nightmares

Oregon's beautiful Columbia Gorge is on fire, along with forests up and down the state

The western half of Oregon is burning, with fire crews battling more than a dozen forest fires that have already singed hundreds of thousands of acres up and down the state. The blaze that's getting the most attention now, though, is the Eagle Creek fire, ignited from the Eagle Creek Trail in the scenic Columbia Gorge on Saturday, apparently by a 15-year-old boy from Washington who dropped fireworks down into dry forest. As of Tuesday night, more than 10,000 acres are on fire, a 45-mile stretch of Interstate 84 is closed to traffic, the Coast Guard has suspended marine travel along a 20-mile stretch of the Columbia River, and up to an inch of ash has fallen on nearby Portland.

This is what the Eagle Creek fire looked like from Monday night to Tuesday morning near Cascade Locks, from across the Columbia in Stevenson, Washington. According to The Oregonian, it was 0 percent contained as of Tuesday evening, and 457 people are working to contain it.

The fire, fed by dry weather and high winds, has jumped across the Columbia to Washington State, and prompted mandatory evacuations in east Multnomah County. Many significantly populated areas of Oregon have hazardous levels of smoke and particulate matter in the air. Oregon fire managers have reported no injuries or destroyed buildings yet, though firefighters spent hours protecting the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge from the encroaching blaze. "It's still threatened slightly, but we made a good save there," Portland Fire Department Lt. Damon Simmons said Tuesday morning.

Oregonians and visitors are coming to terms with the idea that the Columbia Gorge will be scarred for decades, and they are posting photos on social media to share what it looked like before Saturday. The Oregonian has rounded up some of the historic structures and natural treasures in the Eagle Creek fire's path.

The West Coast has been battling huge fires all summer, from British Columbia down to California, where the La Tuna fire — the largest in Los Angeles County history — is now 80 percent contained.