HOCKINSON — Wildland firefighters, enduring scorching heat, today began to make significant headway against a fire burning in industrial timberland in the Cascade foothills of east Clark County.
By late this afternoon, firefighters reported that the Hilltop fire was 46 percent contained.
Since it started shortly after noon on Saturday, the blaze has chewed through more than 60 acres of industrial timberland near the Yacolt Burn State Forest.
It’s also racked up $228,000 in costs drawn from wildfire fund administered by the state Department of Natural Resources. The fund is a type of insurance pool generated by an assessment against timber land owners, said Steve Hartsell, a DNR forester who is serving as a spokesman for the incident command team headquartered at Hockinson High School.
The team has employed two helicopters, one air tanker, numerous fire engines and tenders, and 150 people.
Even though the fire was burning more than 2 1/2 miles away from the closest home, gusty east winds on Saturday created an outsized impression for hundreds of residents in the Cascade foothills. Residents of the tony Summer Hills subdivision, with views 20 miles away to downtown Portland, endured choking smoke rolling across the landscape from the fire burning 10 miles away to the east.
“It has people’s attention,” said Fire District 3 Deputy Chief Scott Sorenson, whose department fielded 30 calls an hour from concerned residents on Saturday afternoon.