Crews battle two brush fires in two days

Portland fire officials are reminding city residents of the outdoor burn ban after crews responded to two grass and brush fires in two days.

The ban is in effect until further notice because of unusually dry conditions for this time of year. All outdoor burning is prohibited, with the exception of charcoal or gas barbecues.

The most recent fire erupted early Saturday afternoon where northbound I-5 splits off at 1-405 downtown. It was started by a construction crew doing work in the area with a cutting torch. Although the construction company had taken proper precautions, which included a water supply, the dry grass and wind spread the fire more quickly than they could contain it.

Firefighters from Station 4 near Portland State Univeristy was the first crew to respond to the fire at 12:40 p.m. By then an area approximately 100' feet by 100 feet was burning, causing a significant amount of smoke. I-405 northbound was shut down for a brief period of time due to the smoke and to allow the crews to operate safely. It was contained a short time later.

The previous day at 1:20 p.m., firefighters were called to a reported brush fire just west of 3000 N. Hayden Island Drive. When Engine 17 from the Hayden Island station arrived, the crew found a one acre fire burning in brush and trees.

The incident commander immediately called for additional resources, hoping to get ahead of the fast moving blaze, while his crew began attacking the fire. By the time more crews arrived, the fire had grown to two acres.

Firefighters struggled with strong winds, dry vegetation and power lines that had fallen while trying to get this blaze under control. Fire commanders called for a second alarm, bringing more firefighters to surround the fire. PGE had reports of power loss in the area due to the damaged power lines.

According to fire officials, crews eventually used every piece of wildfire fighting equipment to fight the fire, including fire engines, brush units (pickup trucks with pumps), ATV's with water tanks, and a water tender (a tanker truck meant to move large volumes of water quickly). Firefighters were finally able to gain the upper hand and the fire was "recalled" (declared under control) at 2:29 pm.

Approximately four acres burned in total. No structures were damaged or threatened by this fire. No injuries were reported in connection with this fire. PGE crews were able to quickly restore power to customers. The cause is still under investigation.

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