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Firefighters fight two Lake Oswego fires on July 4

Two fires broke out at virtually the same time in Lake Oswego on Monday night, the fourth of July.

The first fire occurred at 1288 North Shore Road and caused an estimated $30,000 in damage - and it could have been worse.

'Fortunately, there was a separation wall between the house and garage,' said Gert Zoutendijk, deputy fire marshal for Lake Oswego. 'Most of the damage was to the garage; the house had some roof and smoke damage.'

Zoutendijk said it was difficult to determine the exact cause of the fire, but it was probably due to oily rags or discarded cigarettes. Arson was another possibility.

Before the fire on North Shore Road could be completely put out, another fire occurred at 5404 Southwood Drive in the wake of a legal fireworks party. While the party was legal, the fireworks were disposed of in an improper manner. Instead of being placed in a container with water, they were put in a regular trash receptacle.

'The Portland and Tualatin Valley departments responded, and it was put out quickly,' Zoutendijk said. 'The only damage was to some bushes and to a fence.'

These were the first serious fires to occur on the Fourth of July in Lake Oswego in five years.

'In the past we had some big fires,' Zoutendijk said. 'That is why we patrol a lot more now and make our presence known, so hopefully people will practice safety.'

While the danger of fire caused by fireworks is largely over, Zoutendijk said the LOFD has to be prepared for fires caused by the increasingly dry conditions, despite the extensive rains of winter and spring.

'There's more vegetation,' he said, 'but that means there will be a larger fuel load when it dries out in August. It's always not good to have a wet, long winter.'