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Two-alarm brush fire ignites rural acreage west of Banks

Dry spell - Grassland west of Banks ignites after a burn pile gets out of control
by: Courtesy Photo, A brush fire in February is pretty unusual, but last Thursday, Feb. 28, firefighters from four cities were called out to a fire near the Wilson River that started from a backyard burn pile.

Someone forgot to tell Mother Nature that the wild-fire season doesn't start for another month or two.

As a result, more than 40 firefighters from Banks, Cornelius, Forest Grove and North Plains battled a brushfire, its flames rising 10-15 feet high next to the Wilson River Highway, Thursday afternoon.

Dave Nemeyer, Forest Grove Fire and Rescue spokesman, said that a brushfire in February is almost unheard of.

'A few years ago we had one in March, but I can't remember one in February,' said Nemeyer, who's been on the force for seven years.

The fire started about 2:30 p.m. when a residential burn pile got out of control. By the time Forest Grove rural firefighters arrived at the scene on Northwest Parson Road, two acres of grass land were ablaze.

Firefighters, aided by a muddy field and a marsh which bounded the fire area, were able to tamp out the flames in two hours.

That was a relief for firefighters, who were worried that the flames would spread and ignite structures on the property.

'Even though we have had a significantly wet and cold winter, with a little wind and sun, conditions can quickly dry throughout the county,' Nemeyer said. However, he noted, 'had this been late summer, we would have had a real mess out there.'

Nemeyer added that some farmers and agricultural businesses can burn debris right now, but a ban is still in effect on backyard and residential burning.

To find out when it's safe to burn, call the backyard burning hotline at 503-992-3243.