STEVENSON, Wash. -- At the Rock Creek Hegewald Center, now a temporary disaster shelter run by the Red Cross near Stevenson, Washington, more than 100 people woke up to smoky skies and questions about their homes.
Many fled the Columbia River Gorge town of Cascade Locks as flames roared closer to their homes Monday night.
Karmyn Teschner packed up the tent she slept in, she’s moving to a friend’s home in Portland for a bit. She celebrated the first year of owning her new home in Cascade Locks just last month.
Now she worries it will be gone.
“It still hasn’t really sunk in yet. It’s pretty surreal but the view of as we were leaving the house which was pretty hard to do, was, it took my breath away. I’d never seen anything like that before… just the fire coming up over the ridge and how close it was to all the homes,” she said.
Her home was OK Tuesday, but might still be in danger.
Others from town who evacuated, watched the hillside torch Monday and marveled at the flames awful power.
“This whole mountain was just an inferno,” said Julie Wandling. "It moved so fast, if the wind had happened to change directions I don’t know what would have happened to Cascade Locks... It was real scary. And sad. We’ve lived here all our lives and that’s such beautiful country.”
Around 2 a.m. Tuesday, embers from the Eagle Creek fire flew all the way across the Columbia River and started a new fire on top of Archer Mountain.
The front line is two miles from Jeff Williams’ home.
“We've already got everything out that we need out, you know. Just sitting here. I want to see what’s gonna happen, you know? See if that’s gonna come over the hill or its not or whether I can do anything to keep the place here,” Williams said.
His neighbor, Christy Payne, is one of many furious at the idea that fireworks sparked so much ugly destruction in such a beautiful area.
“To be in a beautiful place like the Columbia Gorge and messing around with fireworks is just... very disturbing,” she said.