Spectacular Washougal fire damages plastics business

Massive blaze burns 5 large stacks of drainage pipe at Port of Camas-Washougal

By Jessica Prokop, Columbian Courts Reporter

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WASHOUGAL — A spectacular fire ripped through a drainage pipe storage yard at the Port of Camas-Washougal on Friday evening, sending plumes of black smoke into the air that were visible for miles.

The fire was reported at Advanced Drainage Systems, 627 S. 37th St., Washougal at 7:56 p.m. and quickly grew to two alarms. Flames reached an estimated 60 feet into the air, Camas-Washougal Fire Department Battalion Chief Greg Payne said. The weather at the time the fire erupted was about 80 degrees with a light breeze.

The blaze burned five large stacks of 4- to 24-inch stormwater management pipe that were stored in an outdoor yard, according to Randy Miller, deputy fire marshal with the Camas-Washougal Fire Department. The storage yard is near South 32nd and Index streets, about a block from the factory

A worker on a forklift reportedly spotted the fire, then tried to separate the stacks of piping to prevent the flames from spreading. The effort was ultimately unsuccessful as the fire quickly spread through the piping.

ADS manufactures and sells polyethylene and polypropylene pipe used for agriculture, mining, forestry, recreation and general construction uses, according to its website. The company is based in Hilliard, Ohio; the Washougal plant is one of several ADS plants in the Pacific Northwest. ADS has been a tenant at the port since 1978.

The Camas-Washougal Fire Department was on scene, assisted by East County Fire & Rescue and the Vancouver Fire Department. Eight engines and a couple of dozen firefighters responded. Clark Public Utilities also responded after a power line was reported down.

The fire was knocked down by about 9 p.m. but was smoldering. Crews planned to be on scene for hours mopping up hot spots. Payne said an ADS plant manager was on site and, once firefighters were released from the scene, ADS workers would remain overnight to make sure the fire didn’t rekindle.

There were no reports of injuries or damages to structures, although some utility-type trailers and storage containers in the yard were charred.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. It’s too soon to estimate damages, said Nick Swinhart, Camas-Washougal fire chief.

Craig Brown of The Columbian contributed to this story.