HOOD RIVER, Ore. -- Smoke descended on the Columbia River Gorge and the town of Hood River again Friday.
At times, it was so thick you could not see across the river. Schools were closed and all activities canceled. The state even issued an advisory warning that unhealthy levels of smoke were covering some parts of the area.
The neighborhoods west of Country Club Drive in Hood River are all under a Level 2 (be set) evacuation warning. It covers 600 homes including Calli Zuercher’s.
“You know the wind shifts back and forth, east and west, so fast around here that we knew eventually it would be at our back door. Here it is,” she said.
Zuercher is a kindergarten teacher with two little ones at home. The fire has her on edge.
“It’s been a little bit nerve-wracking. You just feel like your home is threatened and you want to protect it as best you can,” she said.
You hear that a lot in Hood River these days.
“Its very stressful,” agreed Maureen Donald. Her home is also under a Level 2 evacuation.
“We have a house in Colorado too and we thought for sure we'd be dealing with a fire danger there--but never right here,” said Donald.
Chamber of Commerce spokesman Lee Weinstein said it’s a painful reality for the Columbia River Gorge and its businesses.
“Gorge businesses have been hugely impacted by this fire. You've got restaurants that are vacant, breweries that are vacant and people that are literally laying people off because they can’t afford to keep them on,” he said.
Weinstein urged visitors to return to the gGorge as soon as the fires are out and the smoke cleared.