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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Water Bureau

From forest to faucet, we deliver the best drinking water in the world.

Customer Service: 503-823-7770


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An Emergency Activation: The Eagle Creek Fire in the Bull Run Watershed Management Unit

On Saturday, Sept. 2, what later became known as the Eagle Creek Fire was sparked in the Columbia River Gorge. It quickly combined with the Indian Creek Fire already burning near the Bull Run Watershed Management Unit. The combined fire currently encompasses 48,831 acres (as of Sept. 28) and has burned along the northern border of the Bull Run Watershed Management Unit. Approximately 100 to 150 acres burned inside the BRWMU but not the drainage area. The Bull Run reservoirs and water supply infrastructure were not near the areas that burned.

To respond to any potential impacts of the fire on the watershed or water operations, the Water Bureau activated the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) the week of Sept. 4.

The EOC is where bureau staff convene to track, plan, and coordinate response efforts in an emergency. During the most recent activation to track the Eagle Creek Fire, the bureau’s GIS experts worked with bureau partners to collect data and create accurate, up-to-date maps of the fire’s perimeter in relation to the watershed.

Who is in charge of fighting the fire?

The United Command is the lead agency in fighting this fire. The Portland Water Bureau does not have a direct firefighting role. The bureau coordinates closely with the agencies in charge, which include U.S. Forest Service, the Oregon Department of Forestry, and the Oregon State Fire Marshall’s Office. The bureau supported these agencies with information, maps and gate access to support management of the fires and protection of the watershed.

Engineers and Operations team members expertly managed the water distribution system, tracking system performance and water quality. Resource Protection staff worked with partners and watershed staff – including security and other on-the-ground personnel – to coordinate efforts with partner agencies and monitor watershed health. The Communication staff, including the Public Information Officer, responded to media inquiries and collaborated with bureau staff and external partners to share accurate and timely information with the bureau, the public, and stakeholders.

Thank you to the dedicated Portland Water Bureau professionals who logged many hours during this incident, the bureau’s longest EOC activation in our history. And special recognition is deserved for the firefighters and first responders battling Oregon’s forest fires and providing relief to Oregonians displaced during the 2017 fire season.

Learn more about the Eagle Creek Fire in the Bull Run Watershed by visiting the incident updates page on InciWeb.