Cooler winds expected to help Mount Hood fire

Cooler winds expected to help Mount Hood fire
Smoke rises from the Dollar Lake fire on Sept. 10 (photo courtesy of the USDA-Forest Service).

MOUNT HOOD - Cooler marine winds from the west provided relief for firefighters Monday as they worked to contain a wildfire on the north side of Mount Hood.

Lower temperatures and higher humidity set in Sunday and calmed the blaze, keeping growth of the Dollar Lake Fire lower than expected. It grew a few hundred acres to about 6,200, and officials said it was about 35 percent contained.

Firefighters were working to box in the fire from the north and west fronts to protect Bonneville Power Administration power lines and the Bull Run Watershed, which supplies 900,000 Portland residents with drinking water. The fire was burning three miles from Bull Run and nine miles from the nearest buildings.

"We haven't had any growth on the west, so we're happy those lines have held," said Alexis West, a public information officer for the Dollar Lake Fire.

Crews worked to solidify those containment lines Monday.

The shifting winds were expected to provide some relief from smoke in the Willamette Valley but prompted officials in Hood River County to issue a health warning. A monitoring station at an elementary school in Parkdale indicated air quality levels were hazardous, according to the county's Environmental Health Department.

Officials advised against any outdoor exertion and said schools and daycare facilities should hold recess indoors. People with respiratory and heart diseases, the elderly and children should stay inside, officials said.

Farther south, crews battling the Shadow Lake Fire near Sisters also were benefiting from cooler temperatures and higher humidity, said Kristen Bowles, a fire spokeswoman. Crews used helicopters and air tankers to cool hot spots west of the blaze so firefighters could move in.

They also were working to strengthen and extend containment lines on the north and northwest edges of the fire as winds from the southwest pushed the blaze in that direction.

"Firefighters are going to be very heads-up for spot fires across that north line," Bowles said.

Crews expected heavy smoke in the area and advised travelers to be careful when driving on highways 20 and 126. The Shadow Lake Fire was about 25 percent contained.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.