Bucket brigade puts out grass fire on Bachelor Island

By Patty Hastings, Columbian breaking news reporter

Published:

 
photoThe Bachelor Island fire smoulders Thursday evening.

Boaters and beachcombers helped extinguish a Fourth of July grass fire on Bachelor Island in Ridgefield that witnesses say was started by fireworks.

The blaze sparked around 5 p.m. Thursday on the southern part of the beach, which is west of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. Smoke could be seen from downtown Ridgefield.

An upstream wind pushed the fire along the beach, said Battalion Chief Tim Dawdy, spokesman for Clark County Fire & Rescue. As the temperatures heat up in the afternoon, rivers tend to get an upstream wind, called a diurnal wind.

"That was blowing pretty darn hard yesterday," Dawdy said. CCF&R's fire boat was dispatched to the blaze.

Deputies with the Clark County Sheriff's Office Marine Patrol Unit, who were heading up the Columbia River, saw people on shore filling buckets of water and scooping up sand with oars and paddles to put out the fire, said sheriff's Sgt. Fred Neiman.

"They were inventive in using the tools at hand to extinguish the fire, which is good," Neiman said.

Bachelor Island is surrounded by the Columbia River, Lake River and the Bachelor Island Slough. It's accessible from land only by a bridge closed to the public that connects with the Wildlife Refuge.

Four firefighters ran water lines from the boat's portable pump to mop up the beach fire, Dawdy said. The recreational boaters and people on shore who helped out with the fire, did a good job with their makeshift methods, he said.