Autumn weather has come to save Oregon.
Since Sunday, the Portland area has seen between one-and-a-quarter to two-and-three-quarters inches of rain, greatly dampening the Eagle Creek Fire burning in the Columbia River Gorge, which, as of this morning, was 32 percent contained.
"It's greatly dampening the fire activity and a lot of the crews are being scaled down. People are getting to go home," says meteorologist Andy Bryant. "It certainly has greatly dampened the fire activity, as we had hoped it would."
The incident team managing the Eagle Creek Fire says 300 fire personnel were sent home over the past day, down from an all-time high of about 1,000 personnel. As of this morning, it's just over 600 people.
"There's been some good rainfall across the fire which, of course, has had the effect of greatly reducing fire behavior," says spokesperson Ryan Gordon. "It's going to take a fair amount of precipitation to really take all the heat out of the fire, so some of the larger logs will take awhile. Expect to still see smoldering for awhile, but with the weather that's been predicted this week, we shouldn't expect to see any major growth on the fire."
Unfortunately, the rain could also mean some bad news for the Eagle Creek Fire area.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for the area late Sunday night, in effect through Wednesday morning. According to the notice, a lack of vegetation and "burn scarring" could result in runoff, debris flows, mudslides and landslides, while heavy rains could cause flash floods to develop.
Bryant says there have been reports of rock falls on both the Columbia River Highway and Interstate 84, which are caused by soil and rock destabilized from heat stress.
"We're going to be closely watching the next weather system moving in on Tuesday evening," Bryant says, noting there's potential for another one to two inches of rain.