Rowena Fire Update 8/7/2014 4:30PM


UPDATED 10am 8/8/2014:

Compare today’s briefing map with yesterday’s infrared map and you can see what all the fuss was on Tom McCall Point.

Yesterday’s fire progression map is worth a look, too.  Note that the first two intervals cover 24 hours, while the last five are hourly, with 600 to 900 acres per hour consumed.  No wonder folks in The Dalles were alarmed.  Here’s a good video from Foley Lakes of close-quarters structure protection, fire fighting, and civilian evacuations (during the fire!).  Hat tip to Ron Carroll for the link.

Incident commanders report a picture-perfect completion of the burnout around the Point.

Today, closer to The Dalles, expect to see an aerial ignition (“ping-pong ball” explosives dropped by helicopter) to consume a steep unburned interior pocket.  Should happen later in the day, when target fuels are at their driest.

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1AM 8/7/2014


The Rowena Fire calmed considerably overnight.

At a little after 4PM today, active  fire fighting by helicopter at the top of Tom McCall Point.

This is a planned burnout operation that is happening according to plan.

It may look really scary at times, with entire trees torching, but honestly the incident commanders have a high degree of confidence that fire lines will hold and the Rowena Fire will be allowed to die a quiet death.

The fire line on the west is mainly an old roadbed and dozer tracks, fully plumbed and prepared.  Hot shot crews are backing into the wind, lighting the fire systematically with the wind and terrain to ensure good consumption.  The helicopters are reinforcing the fire line by making it very unlikely that squirrely winds can land an ember ahead of the fire.

Of course, it ain’t over ’til it’s over, but this one looks pretty good to the fire managers.

Here are some great photos shot on Tom McCall Point by Deputy Chief Pete Wright, about 4PM today.  Thanks a heap, Pete!

photo 4

photo 2

photo 1

photo 3

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Fire investigators have identified the area of origin, about half a mile west of the Exit 76 interchange on Hwy 30.  A team of investigators is now combing inch by inch looking for clues as to the cause and exact point where the fire started.  In the photo above, a powerful magnet and a separate metal detector are used to look for metal fragments, only one of several phases of sifting through a room-sized patch in the ditch along the side of the road.  No specific cause is suspected at this time.

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We’re taking this opportunity to put in a plug for cell phone users to sign up for the Wasco County Citizen Alert system, by which the Sheriff’s office communicates emergency messages such as evacuation orders and changes to those orders.  Be aware that the system will only notify based on parameters set by the Sheriff’s office — if the address you register under is outside the notification area, you will not be notified (that’s usually a good thing…).

You don’t have to live in Mosier, or even in Wasco County.  And you can sign up for notification by text, email, fax and many other options.  If you live in Germany and are curious about emergencies in Mosier, you can sign up, as long as you can provide a street address.

Here’s a recent announcement and instructions.

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Citizen Alerts:
The Wasco County Sheriff and Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue recently launched a Citizen Alert system, which notifies by phone in emergencies.  It’s set up to make phone calls to just about every resident and business in the county, and it can be sorted in just about any way you can imagine as well as by a simple radius around a street address.

It has one weakness: cell phone numbers.  Cell phones don’t always have a local address, and they might not be part of the records used in the Citizen Alert system.

If you want to be sure the Citizen Alert system will call your cell phone if there’s an emergency affecting a given area of the County, go to the County’s website,, click on the button for “Citizen Alert Notification Sign Up”, and follow instructions.

The system does a lot more than just make phone calls.  It can deliver text, email, fax, and it can take into account special needs such as if you can’t walk.  It hablas Espanol.  And Tagalog!  But you have to tell it to do so.

You can set it to notify you if your kid’s school gets an emergency notification, as long as you can provide the address of the school.  If you live elsewhere but have friends or family in Mosier, you can sign up to get a 911 text if their house is in the evacuation zone of a fire — again, so long as you can provide the address.

Just specify the address you want attached to your notification and voila!  If any announcement encompasses that address, you will be notified.

You have to go to the website and “opt in” to those and many more features if you want them.

For more information, please call the Fire Chief at 541-478-3333.

One response to “Rowena Fire Update 8/7/2014 4:30PM

  1. Thanks for doing a great job of keeping us informed. I feel like we are in good hands!

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