Clark County fire crews already got a taste of the summer fire season after battling several brush fires, two of which prompted evacuations, Monday afternoon.
Vancouver firefighters responded at about 2:15 p.m. to a brush fire on the hillside near the Burnt Bridge Creek Trail between Northeast Andresen Road and 86th Avenue. Witnesses told 911 dispatchers they saw flames about 10 feet tall burning uphill through thick vegetation, driven by strong winds, according to a fire department news release.
Temperatures at Pearson Field reached 80 degrees Monday afternoon, with only 20 percent humidity and 18 mph winds gusting to 28 mph.
Firefighters battled the blaze from above and below, with the uphill crews working to protect homes in the 8000 block of Northeast 16th Street. Firefighters also worked to avoid several high-voltage power lines running overhead, the department said.
As a precaution, a dozen homes were evacuated for about three hours. Thirty-five firefighters brought the 2-acre fire under control, according to the news release.
No one was reportedly injured. The Vancouver Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the cause of the fire.
56th Way fire
While crews were battling that fire, another blaze sparked at 3:36 p.m., a few miles away, near 6619 N.E. 56th Way. Fire crews reported several tall trees and a large shop were on fire.
The fire was reportedly spreading toward houses, and crews were concerned it might jump Andresen Road, a news release states.
Clark County Fire Marshal Dan Young said Tuesday the fire was sparked by a discarded cigarette, which spread to nearby trees and the shop.
Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency used a reverse 911 call to evacuate the homes in the area. Nine suppression units from Vancouver Fire and Clark County Fire District 6 responded, along with six commanders.
Firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze from three different engines, and crews surveyed the neighborhood to ensure no other fires sparked amid the gusts. Residents were then allowed to return to their homes, the fire department said. No one was reportedly injured.
Young said his office continues to monitor weather and fuel conditions daily. He said a wetter spring meant grass and other vegetation grew rapidly before conditions turned dry.
While Young said he can’t predict the future, if conditions remain consistent, he said he could see issuing a burn ban earlier this year. He also reminds people they are not allowed to burn on windy days.
The fire department encouraged people to keep grass and trees near homes trimmed and to clear dried vegetation from gutters and roofs.