Thought the Eagle Creek Fire was long extinguished? Not quite.
At 2 am today, U.S. Forest Service firefighters responded to a flare-up near the Herman Creek Trailhead in the Columbia River Gorge.
USFS spokeswoman Rachel Pawlitz says that while the 49,000-acre fire was contained in late November 2017, it still has not been declared out and the hotspot is not unexpected.
"Two engines and a hand crew from Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area are on scene suppressing the fire," Pawlitz said in a statement today, "which was found smoldering in heavy downed timber with few ground fuels."
Pawlitz adds that hotspots are one of the post-fire hazards causing Gorge trails to remain closed. "Heavy fuels and organic material," she says, "known as duff can hold heat underground over winter and flare back up after a period of warm dry weather."
With an already unusually dry spring and forecasted hot, dry summer, Pawlitz warns about an increase in potential fire hazards in the Columbia River Gorge.
"As a reminder," Pawlitz says, "fireworks are always illegal on federal public lands." (Translation: Don't be like the Vancouver-area teenager who started the inferno by tossing a firework off a cliff. He now owes over $36 million in restitution.)
"Always check that a campfire is stone-cold out before leaving," she adds, "whenever it is too hot to touch, it is too hot to walk away."