Columbia Gorge wildfire forces hundreds from homes

Wildfire forces evacuations in The Gorge


WISHRAM, Wash -- A wildfire that forced hundreds of people from their homes Sunday in the Columbia River Gorge is now 98 percent contained, officials said Monday.

One homeowner said four of his goats and two lambs were killed, but firefighters saved his dogs, horses and house.

A vineyard owner told KGW he lost three acres of grapes.

The Horsethief Butte Fire started north of Dallesport, Washington around noon Sunday. It was in the hills above Wishram by mid-afternoon. The sheriff ordered a mandatory evacuation that was eased Monday. Approximately 300 people were forced out of their homes. Some went to a shelter in nearby Goldendale, Washington. State Route 14 was closed between highways 97 and 197 until shortly before noon Monday.

"We grabbed a lot," said Joanne Belanger. "This was the first time I've been evacuated."

By late Sunday night the fire, across from the confluence of the Deschutes and Columbia rivers, had torched about 3,200 acres and destroyed some barns and outbuildings. . Approximately 300 firefighters from more than a dozen area fire departments were fighting the flames. 

No homes were damaged, but four outbuildings and one barn were destroyed.

"This is the first year I found out these fires are terrible," Belanger said.

The cause of the Horsethief Butte fire is undetermined. The Wishram School District canceled classes Monday.

Related:  Thousands flee Calif. wildfire   |   Latest on NW wildfires

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