Fire at Washougal business caused by arcing power lines

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian Breaking News Reporter



A fire that tore through a Washougal drainage pipe storage yard Friday was most likely sparked when an electrical wire detached from a power pole, fell and arced, fire investigators said.

Fifteen minutes before the fire was reported, employees at Advanced Drainage System had noticed a problem with the power line and called to have someone from Clark Public Utilities to come take a look, Camas-Washougal Fire Marshal Ron Schumacher said.

A short time later, however, the power lines fell and landed on top of some drainage pipes, Schumacher said. They arced and started the blaze.

How the power line was downed hasn’t yet been determined, but Clark Public Utilities spokeswoman Erica Erland said that the agency is working with the fire marshal’s office and the business as needed.

Firefighters were called to the business, 627 S. 37th St., at the Port of Camas-Washougal, just before 8 p.m. Friday and found flames stretching 60 feet into the air, Camas-Washougal Fire Department Battalion Chief Greg Payne said.

The agency quickly called for a second alarm, sending more firefighters to the scene. Crews had the fire under control within about an hour, but remained on scene for hours afterwards to mop up the fire and put out hotspots.

The flames burned five large stacks of 4- to 24-inch stormwater management pipe that were stored in an outdoor yard.

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

Schumacher said he is waiting to hear back from the company about how much product was lost to determine a monetary estimate for how much damage the blaze caused.

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 and the company has been a tenant at the port since 1978.