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Officials give update on state parks, trailheads affected by Eagle Creek Fire

It has been five months since the Eagle Creek Fire was started, and crews are still working to re-open miles of trail...

Posted: Feb. 16, 2018 1:40 PM
Updated: Feb. 16, 2018 1:40 PM

It has been five months since the Eagle Creek Fire was started, and crews are still working to re-open miles of trails.

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Oregon Parks and Recreation officials hosted their second presentation in the Columbia River Gorge Thursday night, and gave an update on the state parks and trailheads affected by the fire.

Families came to get a look deep inside the Gorge, at trails they dearly miss and haven't been able to see for months - all because a 15-year-old boy tossed fireworks into the Gorge, Oregon State Police troopers say.

On Friday, that teenager will appear in court.

Tom and Desirae Ritz, and their baby boy, attended the presentation Thursday night.

"The Gorge is near and dear to my heart, so just curious how it's doing," Tom Ritz said.

Oregon Parks and Recreation rangers want to let people know what's open, why trails are still closed, and how they are just like the people the fire affected.

"It's always been near and dear to me like many other folks. And it was devastating. We were evacuated during that period of time," said Clay Courtright, the West Gorge parks manager.

He said the Eagle Creek Fire closed around 80 percent of their trails.

They are still working reopen favorites like Angel's Rest and Ainsworth Campground.

"We're usually outdoor enthusiasts, which is why we pick a career in parks and rec. So we definitely empathize with folks wanting to get back on the trail, and we look forward to them getting to do so in a safe manner," Courtright said.

While many people are trying to forget the fire that scorched their surroundings, some families are still thinking about how it all started: what police say was a 15-year-old boy flinging fireworks.

"You want to say they should know better. I think they should. He made a big mistake. I don't know what kind of punishment or reconciliation we can hope for," said Tom Ritz.

His wife Desirae added, "We're responsible for our children. So, I think, as adults we need to take that responsibility and see how to move forward."

Moving forward is something photographer Brad Johnson is doing.

"To dwell on that is not really helpful to my appreciation of the landscape here," he said.

Courtright told FOX 12 information is constantly evolving, so their presentations will continue to have new pictures and park openings.

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