News Stories for Fri., Sep. 8, 2017

Several hundred lightning strikes blanketed Central Oregon yesterday and firefighters responded to new smoke reports. As of yesterday evening, firefighters were staffing 9 fires reported, most of them held at .10 acre, with the largest at 1 acre and minimal spread potential in the Diamond Peak Wilderness being staffed by smokejumpers. A Red Flag Warning remains in place through late tonight for abundant lightning and gusty outflow winds in parts of Central Oregon. We received varying amounts of rain though downpours were reported over the two large fires in the area, the Milli Fire west of Sisters, and the Nash Fire burning near Nash Lake in the Three Sisters Wilderness.

Interstate 84 will remain closed between Troutdale and Hood River as ODOT assesses safety threats to the road caused by the Eagle Creek Fire. There is no schedule for re-opening the road, with trees and rocks continuing to fall. The road will not re-open until ODOT and its partners determine it is safe for the public. On Thursday, sections of guardrail and some road signs were clearly damaged by fire. The fire is still burning but the U.S. Forest Service has authorized ODOT to begin inspections between milepost 37 and 41. The scale of the inspections will broaden as possible. Safety of first responders and travelers is the top priority.

The Warm Springs Fish & Wildlife Committee is hosting a Hunters Meeting this evening from 6-8:00 at the Community Center Social Hall. On the agenda is the 2017 regulations for on-reservation hunting and an opportunity to ask questions.

Culver rolled past Madras yesterday 25-15, 25-10, 25-9 for a nonconference volleyball win. Today the football teams travel to Cottage Grove. Tomorrow, F & JV Volleyball play at La Pine, Varsity at Cascade High School.

The Eagle Creek Fire burning in the Columbia River Gorge is now the nation’s top firefighting priority. The designation, made by the National Interagency Fire Center, prioritizes national resources to the fire when officials ask for it, said Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office Lt. Damon Simmons during a news conference Thursday morning. Three homes have burned and more than 1,800 people are affected by evacuation orders. The Chetco Bar Fire in Southwest Oregon was named the nation’s top fire priority late last month. That fire is still burning on more than 176-thousand acres.

One of the most powerful earthquakes ever to strike Mexico has hit off its southern Pacific coast, killing at least 15 people, toppling houses and businesses and sending panicked people into the streets more than 650 miles (1,000 kilometers) away. The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake hit off Chiapas state near the Guatemalan border with a magnitude of 8.1 — slightly stronger than the magnitude 8 quake of 1985 that killed thousands and devastated large parts of Mexico City.

The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Irma weakened a bit more but remains a powerful threat to Florida with storm surges that could reach 10 feet in some places. Irma’s winds have dropped to 150 mph, still a Category 4 dangerous storm, but now it’s moving between Cuba and the Bahamas over warmer-than-normal waters, which can intensify tropical storms. Forecasters predict a life-threatening storm surge all around the lower coasts of the Florida Peninsula.