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Officials deal with drownings, warn of water conditions as hot weather hits Pacific Northwest

One person drowned and another is presumed dead in two different incidents in the Columbia River Gorge over the last week.

STEVENSON, Wash. — One person drowned and another is presumed dead in two different incidents in the Columbia River Gorge over the last week. The Skamania County Sheriff's Office is now warning people about water safety ahead of this weekend's hot weather.

The Skamania County Sheriff's Office flew its drone Friday searching the Little White Salmon River for a kayaker who is missing and presumed to have drowned.

Right now, most of the river is too dangerous for search crews on the ground or in the water, according to Detective Jeremy Schultz, who also serves as lead search and rescue coordinator.

“You can't get in there, it's going too fast, the flows are too hard, the river's too high right now,” said Schultz, who added that this is an unusual year.

“We’re just now experiencing the spring runoff that we would normally experience on a March or April and early May and here we are in nearly July and the waters are high, they’re super cold.”  

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The kayaker, a man from White Salmon, was reported in trouble Wednesday evening. Searchers recovered his kayak at a log jam on the river, but he has not yet been found.

"We will continue to fly the drone, send resources into the areas that we can effectively search until we can come to a conclusion for the family and friends," said Schultz.

Last Saturday, a woman from Camas fell into the river while hiking a popular trail just below Spirit Falls. Her body was recovered at Drano Lake at the mouth of the Little White Salmon River.

Both situations are tragic, and they are also a reminder for locals and visitors to the Columbia Gorge to be careful, especially now.

“They want to see the waterfalls, they want to see the Columbia River Gorge, they want to see the wild rivers; we want folks to enjoy it from a safe distance,” said Schultz.

A Heat Advisory is in effect for western Oregon and Washington from noon Saturday through Sunday at 10 p.m. The expectations is that western valleys will see three days of 90-degree heat Saturday through Monday, with the highest temperatures, in the upper 90s occurring Sunday afternoon.

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