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Crews are working to remove hazardous trees and rocks in the aftermath of a 138,000-acre fire near Estacada.

COURTESY PHOTO: U.S. FOREST SERVICE - The Lazy Bend Campground felt the impact of the Riverside Fire.

The Riverside Fire is completely contained, but crews are still at work to ensure the safety of the area.

The 138,000-acre fire that began in the Mt. Hood National Forest in September reached 100% containment on Friday, Dec. 4.

At the height of the incident, 500 personnel from across the country were working to contain the flames. The fire reached one-half-mile southeast of Estacada city limits.

Teams from the Oregon Department of Transportation are now working to clear hazardous trees from the area near Highway 224, which is closed past Promontory Park. COURTESY PHOTO: U.S. FOREST SERVICE - A truck carries debris along Highway 224 in the aftermath of the Riverside Fire.

"The Highway 224/Clackamas River corridor had a high intensity burn," said Heather Ibsen, public affairs officer for the Mt. Hood National Forest. "Tens of thousands of trees are endangered of falling on the roadway."

Full containment means a protection line has been completed around the perimeter of the fire. Ibsen described current activity as "isolated smoldering."

"If there are any spot fires within the perimeter, they're not expected to spread," she said. "There are probably still dead trees that will still smolder for quite a while and burn inside for months, but it will be isolated."

Forest Service work will focus on preventing landslides, responding to concerns of erosion and protecting water quality. Rocks that are at risk of falling on the roadway also need to be removed.

"There are many areas forest personnel haven't been able to assess yet because of downed trees," Ibsen said, estimating that the work will continue through spring.

Because of the Riverside and Dowty Road fires, 150 structures in the Estacada area were lost — 50 of which were homes. No lives were lost.

Ibsen noted that the Riverside Fire significantly changed the landscape of the forest.

"We'll get to go back to that area, but it will be different. Many campgrounds along the highway have no living trees left. That changes the entire experience," Ibsen said. "There's a lot of discussion about what recreation in this area will look like."

COURTESY PHOTO: U.S. FOREST SERVICE - Sunstrip Campground is pictured after the Riverside Fire.


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