Fire fighters in Brookings are ready to eat after a long day on the fire lines.

Fire fighters in Brookings are ready to eat after a long day on the fire lines.

Kristian Foden-Vencil/OPB

Before the Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge became the nation’s top priority wildfire, it was the Chetco Bar Fire near Brookings.

Lightning sparked the fire more than two months ago, but it’s only five percent contained despite the work of 1,500 firefighters.

State Republican Representative David Brock Smith represents District 1, which includes the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area, where the fire is burning. He says the fire has consumed nearly 180,000 acres and continues to grow.

Some families have been under evacuation orders for three weeks.

Brock Smith is worried the Eagle Creek Fire might draw attention away from the Chetco Bar Fire. For example, at a recent briefing he heard 2,000 trees will have to be removed along Interstate 84 and the Gorge.

“When we’re talking about those things up in the Eagle Fire for safety, we need to remember the safety that we need for our communities down here in Southwest Oregon on the Chetco,” Smith said.

He says thousands of trees that used to shade salmon spawning beds in the Chetco and Pistol Rivers have burned.

“Look at the salvage that we need to do,” he said.

Fire managers say the Chetco Bar Fire likely won’t be extinguished until rain starts falling in October.