Monday, September 21, 2020
Sept. 21, 2020

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Forest fire burns at least 10 acres in north Clark County

Fire burning near East Fork of Lewis River

By , Columbian Editor, and
, Columbian Social Services, Demographics, Faith
Published:

Vancouver Fire Prevention

• Only discard cigarettes in noncombustible containers, not on the ground or in planters.

• Do not use weed burners or any kind of open flame to remove weeds.

• Although barbecues are allowed, be careful when disposing charcoal briquettes.

• Fireworks are illegal after the Fourth of July and should not be used.

• All outdoor burning is prohibited.

Officials are warning of extreme fire danger this weekend, as previewed by days of house fires that caused more than $1 million damage, multiple brush fires and a forest fire in north Clark County.

Extraordinarily dry and warm conditions this year have prompted the National Weather Service in Portland to issue an unusual Fire Weather Watch for Clark County. It warns of critical conditions, hot temperatures and dry fuels, and says that any fires that start may be a “significant challenge” to control over the next two days.

A forest fire sparked Friday afternoon near the East Fork of the Lewis River, near the mouth of Dole Valley.

Fire District 13 Chief Ben Peeler said the fire had grown to at least 10 acres by Friday night. The fire was not contained and crews were trying to put out hot spots and dig a trench with bulldozers to stop the fire’s progression.

Smoke and flames could be seen from Moulton Falls Winery, which is off of Northeast Railroad Avenue north of Moulton Falls Park. The winery was open, business as usual, though the live music act had to compete for people’s attention against the helicopters that were dropping water on the blaze.

Vancouver Fire Prevention

• Only discard cigarettes in noncombustible containers, not on the ground or in planters.

• Do not use weed burners or any kind of open flame to remove weeds.

• Although barbecues are allowed, be careful when disposing charcoal briquettes.

• Fireworks are illegal after the Fourth of July and should not be used.

• All outdoor burning is prohibited.

“We’ve got three helicopters in our backyard,” said owner Joe Millea. The helicopters were getting water from the back of his 7-acre property.

He was told Friday that the fire was between 10 and 15 acres, and that crews wouldn’t be able to put it out overnight.

“They said it’s not that bad at this point,” Millea said. Moulton Falls Winery doesn’t have a vineyard that Millea has to worry about, but if the fire travels downhill his business could be in trouble.

The fire was being fought by local fire departments with assistance from and the Department of Natural Resources and an inmate crew with the Larch Corrections Center. Peeler said about 50 people were working on the fire Friday night.

“It’s about 10 minutes from our house. We have a lot of smoke here. It’s hard to breathe at times,” said Shelly Green, who lives farther south on Dole Valley Road.

The fire was reported at about 3 p.m. as a plume of smoke on forest land east of the town of Yacolt. The first units arrived to find the fire was spreading in an unusual pattern, moving down a slope and against the wind.

No evacuations have been ordered. Janet Pearce, a spokeswoman for the DNR, said firefighters believe they can gain control.

Initial reports are that the fire is on previously logged land owned by Weyerhaeuser Co.

Green described the terrain in the vicinity as steep and forested, with waist-high grass in the meadows. Like the rest of Clark County, “It’s very dry,” she said.

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