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A virtual army of fire engines, water tenders and firefighters was sent to protect the lodge.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - A Portland Fire and Rescue firefighter hoses down vegetation adjacent to the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge Wednesday, while the famous waterfall thunders on in the background. A vigorous firefighting effort spared the lodge from the voracious Eagle Creek Fire, which had consumed over 33,000 acres of woodland by Wednesday evening.It was touch-and-go at Multnomah Falls Lodge late Sunday and early Monday as the Eagle Creek Fire surrounded the historic Columbia River Gorge landmark.

Flames wrapped around the entire ridge of the famous high falls, igniting trees and causing landslides. During the peak of the inferno, flames reached as close as 30 yards from the lodge. But thanks to the efforts of a coalition of Oregon fire departments working around the clock, structural damage to the lodge was prevented.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 6, Multnomah Falls Lodge was standing strong and free of fire damage.

"Multnomah Falls is the crown jewel of the gorge for us," said Beth Kennedy, natural resource interpretive specialist with the U.S. Forest Service. "We are thankful for the efforts that were made to protect it."

As the fire began spreading through Labor Day weekend, a virtual army of fire engines, water tenders and firefighters was sent to protect the lodge, located 18 miles east of Troutdale. The biggest concern was the cedar shake roof, which would only need one errant ember to ignite, officials noted. As flames encroached on the landmark, crews worked to keep the structure wet throughout the night.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Gresham Fire & Emergency Services firefighters pose with Multnomah County Commissioner Lori Stegmann on in front of  the fire-threatened Multnomah Falls Lodge on Wednesday, Sept. 6.  The fire, which had consumed more than 30,000 acres as of Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 6, had moved west from Eagle Creek to wrap around the lodge.

On Wednesday afternoon, trees and rocks fell from the ridge line, and flames reached down to spots along the Historic Columbia River Highway. Smoke from smoldering blazes was visible along the ridgeline above towering cliffs scorched black. Flames surrounded the lodge from midnight until about 3 a.m. Monday, Sept. 4, when crews were finally able to push it back.

With no fire hydrant access at Multnomah Falls, crews replinished their water supplies from Multnomah Creek. At one point the lodge lost electrical power, but firefighters noted you couldn't tell because the fire was so bright.

"There is not one single agency represented here," said Lt. Rich Tyler, spokesman with Portland Fire & Rescue. "We all came together to work as a team."

In total, 67 fire districts have responded to help fight the Eagle Creek Fire, with many departments on the scene at Multnomah Falls.

"How they were able to save the lodge — save it in the midst of hellish fire — is amazing," said Gov. Kate Brown, who visited the falls Wednesday afternoon. "The Gorge is a very special place for many of us, and these firefighters made heroic efforts to save the lodge."

While the worst seems to be over, the crews protecting the lodge aren't going anywhere. The plan is to remain in place until officials are 100 percent sure everything is safe. The current concern isn't based on return of the fire, but from falling trees and boulders no longer held in place by stable root systems. Several troubled trees have been marked, and preemptive actions taken to try to keep them from falling on the lodge.

The iconic Benson Footbridge that spans Multnomah Creek — a popular photo-taking spot — appears undamaged, though the trail leading to it is inaccessible after the wooden bridge closer to the lodge burned down.

Although the situation isn't completely under control, and many repairs will be needed, the lodge — for now, at least — is safe.

"It's still Multnomah Falls," said Damon Simmons, information officer with the Oregon State Fire Marshal's office. "It's still here."

It was touch-and-go at Multnomah Falls Lodge late Sunday, early Monday as the Eagle Creek fire surrounded the historic Columbia River Gorge landmark.

Flames wrapped around the entire ridge of the falls, igniting trees and causing landslides. During the peak of the inferno, flames reached as close as 30-yards away from the Lodge. But thanks to the efforts of a coalition of Oregon fire departments working around the clock, structural damage to the Lodge was prevented.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 6, Multnomah Falls Lodge stands.

"Multnomah Falls is the crown jewel of the Gorge for us," said Beth Kennedy, natural resource interpretive specialist with the U.S. Forest Service. "We are thankful for the efforts that were made to protect it."

As the Eagle Creek Fire began spreading throughout the region, a task force of fire engines, water tenders and firefighters was sent to protect the Lodge. The biggest concern was the wooden roof, which would only need one errant spark to ignite. So, crews worked to keep the structure wet throughout the night as the flames crept closer.

The fire arrived from the east wrapping all the way around the Lodge. Trees and rocks fell from the ridge line, and flames reached all the way down to spots adjacent to the Historic Columbia River Highway. Around the ridge there are still smoldering remains emitting smoke, and many of the cliffs have been scorched black. The flames surrounded the Lodge from midnight until about 3 a.m. Monday, Sept. 4, when crews were finally able to push it back.

Because there is no fire hydrant access at Multnomah Falls, crews refilled their water supplies from the Multnomah Creek. At one point the Lodge lost power, but according to the firefighters working you couldn't tell because the fire was so bright.

"There is not one single agency represented here, we all came together to work as a team," said Lieutenant Rich Tyler, spokesman with the Oregon State Fire Marshal.

In total 67 fire districts have responded to help fight the Eagle Creek Fire, with many departments on scene at Multnomah Falls.

"How they were able to save the Lodge, save it in the midst of hellish fire is amazing," said Oregon Governor Kate Brown, who visited the falls Wednesday afternoon. "The Gorge is a very special place for many of us, and these firefighters made heroic efforts to save the Lodge."

While the worst seems to be over, the crews protecting the Lodge aren't going anywhere. The plan is to remain in place until officials are 100 percent sure everything is safe. The current concern isn't from a return of the fire, but from falling trees and boulders. Several trouble trees have been marked, and attempts have been made so that when they do come down they don't hit the Lodge.

The stone viewing bridge that spans across Multnomah Creek and serves as a popular photo spot seems to avoid any damage, though the trail leading up to it is inaccessible. The wooden bridge on the trail burned down and will need to be replaced.

And though the situation isn't completely under control, and repairs will need to be conducted, the Lodge is safe.

"It's still Multnomah Falls, it's still here," said Damon Simmons, information officer with the Oregon State Fire Marshall.

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