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Cornelius wood-chip blaze draws five agencies to N. Fourth Avenue Saturday

COURTESY PHOTO: FOREST GROVE FIRE & RESCUE - Firefighting crews battle heavy smoke at a wood-chip blaze in Cornelius Saturday night.Firefighters from five western Washington County agencies battled a wood-chip blaze on North Fourth Avenue north of Walmart in Cornelius Saturday night, according to posts on the Cornelius Fire Department Facebook page.

The fire caused heavy smoke in the area into the early hours of Sunday morning, Aug. 2.

Here's a chronology of entries on that page:

7 p.m.: “We're on scene of a very large compost/wood chip fire on N. 4th Ave. There is a lot of smoke visible throughout the area.”

8 p.m.: “We now have heavy machinery on site that is breaking apart these large piles. We have gotten requests about evacuations. There is no need to evacuate you homes at this time, we just ask that you stay indoors and please don't come down to this area of N. 4th Ave.”

9 p.m.: “This fire has began to push more smoke over as it is not freely burning and the evening winds have picked up. If you live south of this scene and have breathing problems, stay inside and close the windows.”

COURTESY PHOTO: CORNELIUS FIRE DEPARTMENT - Flames rise from a giant wood-chip and compost pile on North Fourth Avenue in Cornelius. Firefighters were on the scene throughout the night Saturday, Aug. 1.10 p.m.: “We have firefighters still actively working with property representatives on breaking apart these piles and extinguishing the flames and hot spots. Due to the heavy smoke that has laid down, crews are wearing air packs to breathe clean air. These air packs are usually used on structure fires. We currently have 5 engines, 3 brush rigs, a water tender, a ladder truck and multiple vehicles on scene. There's are about 30 firefighters on scene and we are being assisted by Forest Grove Fire & Rescue, Hillsboro Fire & Rescue, Gaston Fire District and Washington County Fire District 2.”

Midnight: “We have stopped putting water on the piles and removed crews from the area to take a break, what we call rehab. They are resting, rehydrating and getting a chance to eat some food. This is also giving us a chance to let the machinery move more debris and let the smoke dissipate a bit. We are hearing that the smoke is being smelled as far away as Newberg and Wilsonville. We will be here throughout the night breaking apart the piles and cooling them down.”

Just after midnight: “The smoke has dissipated as we take our break and no water is put onto the pile. We have released crews from Hillsboro Fire and Washington County Fire District 2. A huge thank you to them and their help.”

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