Gold Rush Fire is 100 percent contained

Some resources will be demobilized this week

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The Gold Rush Fire, a wildfire that has been burning logging slash 12 miles northeast of Washougal for eight days, is now fully contained.

According to Department of Natural Resources Spokesman Brian Poehlein, as of Monday there are 85 personnel on site, including three crews of 10 people each from Larch Corrections Center in Yacolt. Demobilization of some resources will take place during the next few days, but the area will be patrolled and monitored for the next few weeks.

The 60-acre fire, originally reported on Aug. 17, is located along Forest Road 2000, about 7.5 miles past Dougan Falls in a remote section of west Skamania County.

Methods of attacking the blaze have included the use of helicopters dumping water on the fire, bulldozers and a mechanical harvester. Contracted timber fallers, loggers with specialized skills in taking down trees by hand, were also brought in to help out.

“They go in and cut the trees left behind, so firefighters can go in there to fight the fire,” said DNR Spokeswoman Mary McDonald.

Due to the rugged terrain, most of the fire line had to be established by hand.

“Much of the area is too steep for equipment,” McDonald said Wednesday afternoon. “This is usually over 40 percent slope, so the fire line is having to be built by hand with shovels.”

A number of firefighters from local agencies also provided assistance, including East County Fire and Rescue and Clark County Fire and Rescue.

Capt. Wes Long said ECFR was called out Aug. 17, thanks to a mutual aid agreement.

In addition to manpower, ECFR brought a brush rig, as well as a water tender to the scene due to the rural nature of the fire.

“It’s very steep terrain,” Long said following his shift on the first day of the wildfire. “It had the potential of getting crazy on us.”

Although no structures were ever threatened during the wildfire, the incident put many local residents on edge.

Nancy Marvin was one of several DNR representatives stationed at the nearby Washougal River Mercantile to provide information to concerned and curious citizens.

“We have people here who haven’t really experienced wildfires in Southwest Washington,” she said. “It can be a little scary for some, when they’re not used to it. It’s not the same as in some of the communities in central and eastern Washington, where they are often used to seeing fire trucks and that kind of thing. It’s good to have someone here to keep people updated.”

With the fire now under control, resources being used to fight the Gold Rush Fire will be reduced during the next few days. A DNR official will remain at the mercantile Tuesday, but a presence after that is uncertain.

Forest Road 2000 remains closed to recreational traffic at the Three Corner Rock trail head, Poehlein said, but the Dougan Falls and Naked Falls areas on the Washougal River are open.

Authorities believe the Gold Rush Fire was human caused. Anyone with information should call DNR at (360) 575-5787.

In June the Department of Natural Resources, which regulates outdoor burning on all forest lands where DNR provides wildfire protection, issued a statewide burn ban. It continues through Sept. 30.

“Please spread the word campfires are rarely out even if you think they are out, this time of year,” McDonald said. “No campfires, please.”