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Local photographer holds 'thank you' brunch for Eagle Creek Fire crews

It's been five month's since the Eagle Creek Fire burned nearly 50,000 acres of land.

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Brenna Kelly
COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE, OR — It's been five month's since the Eagle Creek Fire burned nearly 50,000 acres of land.

The human-caused fire took nearly two months to be put out, but the aftermath is still being felt by the people who lived in the Columbia River Gorge and beyond.

On Saturday, firefighters and search and rescue crews were invited to the Multnomah Falls Lodge by Clifford Paguio, a local photographer, who wanted to thank them for saving an area he calls his second home.

"This is a very special place because thanks to all the firefighters, saved this historic lodge," said Paguio.

Firefighters and search and rescue crews were treated to a big brunch at the lodge, which is still skirted by a fence.

Forest Service officials told FOX 12 the fences are up for safety. They say trees and rocks are still coming down.

"And they continually fall, you never know when a huge five foot by five foot rock is gonna fall until it actually happens," said Matt Ramich with the U.S. Forest Service.

Oregon Parks and Recreation officials say the fire closed around 80 percent of their trails. They are still working to reopen hikes like Angel's Rest and the Gorge 400 Trail around Ainsworth.

"We're not there yet, it's gonna take a little while but nature has it's way of recovering," said North Bonneville Fire Department Chief Glen Bell.

Forest Service officials say Multnomah Falls will be closed to hikers until at least the summer.

"It's a little daunting to see the fences up and the inability to get up to the falls, which has always been beautiful place to go," said Ann Marcus, who was hiking in the area.

Even with all the devastation, crews remain hopeful.

"We as a society put fires out on a regular basis and the ecosystems need fire," said Ken Snell with Pacific Northwest Search and Rescue. "So in the long run, I think it'll be just fine and we'll have a more diverse landscape."

"It's gonna really bring back a lot of vegetation. It was probably overcrowding with disease and other things that were going on before. Fires are good in that sense," said Ramich.

Parks and Rec officials are putting on two presentations in the Gorge Saturday night to give an update on the State Parks and trailheads affected by the fire.

Officials told FOX 12 what's most vital is that when trails do begin to open, people stay on them. If not, it could compromise safety.

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