The iconic Multnomah Falls are set to reopen to the public this week—for the first 186 people who can fill the Interstate 84 parking lot, which is the only access point to the falls while officials continue to clear debris from the Columbia River Gorge wildfire.
Once the parking lot is full, officials say they will close the highway exit that leads to the lot.
The fire started when a 15-year-old Vancouver boy threw a firecracker into the dry brush near the Eagle Creek trailhead. Smoke quickly began to rise and the teen, who was with a group of friends, fled to the trail's parking lot. The group was stopped by forest service officers while driving away from the trail.
The Hood River County District Attorney indicted the teen who threw the firecracker on charges of reckless burning, depositing burning materials on forest lands, unlawful possession of fireworks, criminal mischief and recklessly endangering other persons.
Although the flames burned very close to Multnomah Falls and the historic lodge, most of the greenery remained intact.
The Multnomah Falls lodge and the immediate area have been cleared for visitors between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., but many of the surrounding trails are still too dangerous because of falling debris, officials say.