Early season Oregon brush fires grab attention

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It’s only mid-April, but a few small brush fires popped up in the region over the past few days, putting fire officials on alert.

Saturday afternoon, a brush fire burned about a quarter-acre near Northwest Corey Road in Washington County, officials with TVF&R said. The gusty winds added to the urgency to contain the fire, which happened from “debris burning that got out of control.”

No one was hurt and TVF&R officials said it was put out in about 45 minutes.

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Around that same time, Estacada firefighters dealt with a burn pile that grew to about 100 feet x 200 feet. They said they put it out quickly and it didn’t threaten any structures.

Then a little later Saturday, Portland Fire & Rescue had to handle an outdoor fire in blackberry bushes under the overpass at Southwest Corbett and Naito. Officials said the fire spread to “the door of a bellow-grade substation,” but crews knocked it down quickly.

Another fire from a slash pile also erupted Saturday afternoon in Grand Ronde. Winds also spread that fire in the 50000 block of Hebo Highway, officials said. They added it was “not the first escaped burn pile we have seen in the county in the past couple of days.”

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Although it’s a bit early for wildfire season, Stefan Myers with TVF&R told KOIN 6 News they’ve already responded to “three brush fires, nine bark dust fires and a handful of small debris piles issues.”

“As soon as it starts to dry out, as soon as the sun comes out, we have potential for fire and fuels,” Myers said. “People thought it was a little bit more moisture than there was, winds kick up things, dry out and all of a sudden that free pile becomes a brush fire.”

Myers said the department dealt with 55 incidents that needed a wildland fire response last year.

Now is the time to get your homes ready for wildfire season, he said.

“Start leaning up trees, cutting grasses down and reducing fuels in and around your home, and thinking about buffer zones that you can make,” he said. “It’s going to be embers, it’s going to be those things that get into debris piles that get into stacked wood that gets into uncut grasses and bushes and flammable fuels near your home that can actually get your home on fire.”

Only about 30% of Oregon is considered in moderate drought, according to the US Drought Monitor

The Western Fire Chiefs Association said, “Wildfire season in Oregon typically starts in mid-May and ends with the first rains, usually in late September. Droughts, snowpacks and local weather conditions affect how long Oregon’s fire season lasts, especially in Southwest and Eastern Oregon.”

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