The fire burning on the east side of Mt. Hood is the closest big fire to Portland---so we're covering it allot. We're also watching it because it threatens the Tilly Jane camp ground with some very cool historic buildings--- and lots of forest land that we all like to play in and around.
Having said that----from a reporter perspective---covering the fire is a real challenge---which is a nice way to say its a real pain in the rear.
When ever I go to a fire I want to get to the front lines as fast as possible to see the action and show you---- the viewers the hard work that's underway.
And, by the way, I have tremendous respect for those working the front lines. It is hard, hot, dirty work.
But on the Mt. Hood fire (at least when I was there Thursday 8/10/06) there is no access to the front lines on the Blue Grass Ridge....and not much interest getting us to the front lines on Badger Creek.
Thursday morning we had a fantastic briefing from the incident commander who described the efforts and the dangers of both fires.
We chose not to leave the fire camp until after our noon live shots----and would have been stuck until 2pm if not for a couple willing information officers who agreed to go explore with us.
Still--- they were under strict orders not to take us off Highway 35. That's where the frustration enters. I've covered forest fires as a reporter for 21 years. I do not want to burn up or get close enough to get torched by a forest fires. Having said that---- it seemed a bit silly how far we were kept from the flames Thursday.
We were probably a mile or two from the action at our closest moment.
On the Badger Creek fire---which was burning on the east side of highway 35....the acreage is smaller but the threat higher(at least it was Thursday) because if the flames got into a certain canyon---it would be unstoppable and race into a watershed that provides drinking water for The Dalles.
Information officers for the fire told me "Hotshot" crews were in knocking down smaller spot fires there, but that there were no roads into the area and it required a two hour hike to get there.
When I told them I was ready for that---they laughed.
I know they're trying to keep everyone safe---- but it sure makes it hard to report a story about a forest fire when you're kept so far back.