#EagleCreekFire - The Tragic Destruction Of The Columbia River Gorge

Wildfire in the columbia gorge started by teens throwing fireworks

I'm diverging a bit today from my usual focus on art in healthcare.  As I sit here writing from my home in Portland, I can see the ashes drifting down on the smoky air outside my window.  One of my favorite places in the world, a gem of the Pacific Northwest, is in flames.  

Eagle Creek, in the Columbia River Gorge.  This is where the fire started when two young men threw fireworks over a cliff.

An extremely hot and dry summer, combined with the careless idiocy of two young men, has turned this beautiful refuge into a fiery inferno.  I doubt that much of the gorge area will be the same in my lifetime. 

Photo by Diego G Diaz via Willamette Week.  Click image for story. 

Photo by Diego G Diaz via Willamette Week.  Click image for story. 

Aside from all of the lives and property at risk, I am completely heartbroken over the devastating loss of some of the most beautiful natural areas in the Pacific Northwest.  These are the places I go when I need a retreat, the places I bring friends and family when they come to visit.  

The Columbia Gorge May Not Be The Same In Our Lifetime

Multnomah Falls.  The lodge has been spared, so far.  It's unclear how the rest of the area is faring.  

Multnomah Falls is among the most visited tourist destinations in Oregon.  There are conflicting reports at this point as to whether it will be completely burned out.  

At the time of writing, the last report had the fire at around 10,000 acres.  Given the conditions, I wouldn't be entirely surprised if there is another zero added to that number before all is said and done.  Evacuation orders have been marching steadily westward, and are already affecting the eastern side of Troutdale, less than 15 miles from where I sit writing.  

I'm at a loss for words.  All reports indicate that this devastating fire was started by a group of teenagers who were gleefully throwing fireworks off a cliff.  I can't get behind the calls for lynchings that I'm seeing on social media, but I can't deny my anger at their blatant disregard for the consequences of such stupid behavior.  My partner suggested that the kids should be made to go to every school in the Pacific NW to educate other kids on the dangers of fireworks and careless behavior.  I tend to agree.  

There are no more words for this tragedy, so I'll leave you with a link to the FAQ by the Friends Of The Columbia Gorge, which includes ways that you can help those who are dealing with this tragedy, and then a few more of my favorite images from the gorge.