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Evacuations Downgraded For Wildfire Burning Near Mosier

<p>Smoke from a fire near&nbsp;Memaloose State Park fills the Columbia River Gorge.</p>

Wasco County Sheriff's Office


Smoke from a fire near Memaloose State Park fills the Columbia River Gorge.

UPDATE (Aug. 13, 7:40 a.m. PT) — People in the Columbia River Gorge near Mosier were told Saturday to evacuate due to a wildfire that started Friday night around Memaloose State Park. The evacuations remained in place as of Sunday morning.

The Wasco County Sheriff’s Office has since reduced Level 3 "Go Now" evacuation orders to Level 2 "Get Set" for both sides of Highway 30, at the intersections of Marsh Cutoff Road, east to the bottom of the Rowena Loops, Rowena Dell and Rowena Overlook to Canyon Way. Highway 30 is open once after the fire previously closed a 6-mile stretch of the road near Mosier.

ODOT warned that drivers on nearby Interstate 84 may face short delays.

According to the Oregon Department of Forestry, firefighters were able to hold the Memaloose #2 Fire to about 175 acres as of Sunday morning. Containment is estimated at 50 percent as of Sunday evening. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown invoked the Conflagration Act, freeing up additional resources to fight the fire.

Investigators are expected to arrive on scene Sunday to begin work on finding the cause of the fire.

The sheriff's office posts evacuation orders and updates on its Facebook page. It reports the fire started near the south side of I-84 on Friday night, on a hill behind the Memaloose rest area. The cause isn’t known.

The Memaloose #2 Fire is burning northwest of The Dalles. Fires south and east of the city tore through wheat country earlier this summer.

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Emily Cureton Cook is OPB’s Central Oregon Bureau Chief. She's the former producer of the Jefferson Exchange on JPR and has contributed award-winning programming to Georgia Public Broadcasting. Emily is a graduate of the University of Texas in Austin where she earned degrees in history, studio art and Russian.