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A total 16 firefighters sent to battle blaze near Cascasde Locks in Columbia River Gorge

PHOTO COURTESY OF RUSS WARNER - A task force of firefighters from Columbia County was dispatched Sunday, Sept. 3, to the Eagle Creek Fire.UPDATE: A Columbia County firefighting task force has been dispatched to the Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge, now burning more than 30,000 acres.

Fire crews from the Scappoose, Columbia River Fire and Rescue, Clatskanie and Vernonia fire districts were dispatched Sunday morning, Sept. 3, to the blaze.

A total 16 fire personnel, four engines and one water tender were sent to the conflagration, according to a release from the Scappoose Fire District. The task force was initially requested specifically to help protect structures near Cascade Locks earlier this week.

Fire personnel are working with the Red Team from the Oregon State Fire Marshal's Incident Management Team and fire crews from Clackamas, Umatilla, Washington, Yamhill and Marion counties. More than 900 firefighters are currently working the fire.

On Thursday, Damon Simmons, a lieutenant with Portland Fire and Rescue and a member of the Oregon State Fire Marshal's Red Team, stated in a press conference that the fire was 5 percent contained and a total three homes have been destroyed in the blaze.

Historic structures in the gorge, like the Multnomah Falls Lodge and Vista House, were being monitored by fire personnel earlier in the week.

The fire, which had burned more than 30,000 acres by Thursday, was believed to be human-caused. A 15-year-old teen from Vancouver, Washington, was identified as a suspect in the case, but no charges had been filed against the teen as of press time Thursday.

Bits of ash could be seen floating through the air and settling on cars, buildings and other structures in Columbia County Tuesday and Wednesday morning as a result of the blaze.

The Department of Environmental Quality categorized the air quality as unhealthy for most of the week due to smoke and debris, and recommended limiting outdoor activities.

School districts in Columbia County moved athletic practices indoors as a result.

On Thursday morning, the air quality rating had improved to moderate levels.

In Multnomah County, Level 3 (GO!) evacuation orders were issued to residents in Warrendale, Bridal Veil, Larch Mountain, Dodson and East Corbett. A Level 2 (Be Ready) evacuation notice was given to residents in Corbett and Springdale. Those evacuation levels held steady on Thursday morning.

Interstate 84 remains closed between Hood River and Troutdale. Coast Guard officials are only allowing commerical boats on the Columbia River in the gorge at night, while fire crews plan to use the waterway to help in fire suppression efforts.

The Columbia County Task Force was previously dispatched to a wildfire conflagration near Sisters in August. This marks its second dispatch this fire season.

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