Christina Kemp contributed to this story.
ROWENA, Ore. –Fire crews made great progress overnight on the Rowena Fire in the Columbia River Gorge. Authorities say everyone who had to evacuate can return home today. About 140 homes were under a Level 3 “go” evacuation but with building containment lines and crews putting out hot spots the fire is now 55 percent contained.
This morning a parade of 15 fire trucks were returning to their stations in the Portland area from the wildfire. Firefighters will focus Saturday on removing more unburned fuel and holding containment lines.
The fire that was sparked on Tuesday night has destroyed one home and damaged two others. 700 are threatened. Firefighters are working to protect homes that are in danger and those families are told to be ready to go at any moment.
It exploded from 150 acres on Wednesday morning to over 3,300 acres by Friday. The forecast calls for low humidity and high winds, which increases the chances of the fire spreading further. Crews of about 400 strong have been able to strengthen containment and now they’re focused on heavy flames nearing Interstate 84.
Governor John Kitzhaber toured the area Friday morning.
“I can only imagine what it must have felt like seeing this wall of fire coming down towards them,” Kitzhaber said.
Earlier this week, he authorized more resources to fight the fire and protect structures. Kitzhaber also toured the state’s biggest wildfire in Southern Oregon and points to a bigger issue, calling for Congress to step up with the resources needed to reduce the fire risk.
About 4,000 crews are fighting wildfires in Oregon spanning more than 143 square miles at a cost of over $37 million.
A shelter has been set up by the American Red Cross at the Mosier Grange.
Thirteen miles of Highway 30 is closed between Mosier and The Dalles.