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3 brushfires in 3 weeks, east of Oaks Park

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - As a battalion chief supervises, firefighters from several companies, including Woodstock Station 25, stop the third and largest fire in August in Oaks Bottom east of Oaks Amusement Park. Active fire is still visible in the background.With tinder-dry conditions, and high brown grass lining Oak Bottom, it did not come as a surprise to the Portland Fire Bureau when the first brushfire call came in from just east of Oaks Park, on the east side of the railroad tracks at the Springwater Trail. That was at 5:30 pm on Friday, August 17th.

In the first fire, less than one acre was burned, according to PF&R Public Information Officer Lt. Joseph Troncoso. “A discarded cigarette, tossed from the Springwater Trail, was suspected of igniting this grass fire.”

Almost exactly one week later, on Friday, August 24, Engine 20 headed out of the Bybee Boulevard fire station at 2:13 pm – again bound for Oaks Bottom.

“I could see white smoke, as we were arriving,” said Capt. Sara Boone of that day’s Station 20 crew. In fact, this fire took off heading north, very near to where the previous fire had been. Boone called for a “wildland brush fire” response, which brought a total of three engines, a truck, two brush units, and a water tender, to the scene.

“The burned-out area was approximately 300 by 30 feet,” Troncoso said, after putting out the fire. “Two brush units, 18 (Multnomah Village) and 29 (Powellhurst) are staying to clean up hot spots.”

Eleven days after the first fire, on the late afternoon of Tuesday, August 28, a THIRD fire erupted in almost exactly the same place.

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - This view from above shows the large area burned by the third brushfire east of Oaks Amusement Park, in Oaks Bottom, on August 28th, with the much smaller previous two fires that occurred eleven days and four days previously marked for comparison.Fire crews were dispatched to that brushfire at 6:56 pm; callers to 9-1-1 – most of them visitors at Oaks Park – reported that a 100-foot by 100-foot area was covered with fire. Five fire units responded, including Station 25 in Woodstock and Clackamas County Engine 2, responded this time.

“Grass fires spread very quickly,” observed Portland Fire Bureau P.I.O. Ron Rouse, “but we were able to suppress it before it could spread to the trees.” The fire was brought under control at 7:26 pm.

The third burned-out area ended up being 300-feet by 300-feet – making it the length of a football field in both directions, or larger than the previous two fires combined – and once again, it was on the east side of the Springwater Trail and railroad tracks, directly east of Oaks Amusement Park.

Two brush units, 18 (Multnomah Village) and 29 (Powellhurst) also assisted in cleaning up the hot spots after the main body of the fire had been extinguished. Station 29 also houses ATVs which allows for a quick attack.

Published reports say fire investigators caught teens who set an even earlier fire in Oaks Bottom on August 7th. The first fire after that, as mentioned, was believed to be a discarded cigarette.l

The cause of the second and third fires are still under investigation, and fire investigators are reportedly looking very carefully at the coincidence of those three brushfires in three weeks at the south end of Oaks Bottom.