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Cause of two barn fires remains unclear

Sherwood blazes leave $92,500 in damage


Sherwood firefighters were busy last week battling two separate barn fires, which resulted in the deaths of chickens and possibly a cat.

On Friday, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue firefighters responded to a barn fire in the 18700 block of Southwest Parrett Mountain Road.

The fire was spotted by a delivery truck driver at about 12:26 p.m. Nearby fire hydrants were unavailable, and the fire was quickly upgraded to a first-alarm response, which brought more resources to firefighters, including water tankers to shuttle water to crews.

TVF&R firefighters from Sherwood Engine 33 and crews from Newberg Fire & Rescue were able to contain the fire and keep it from spreading, though some flames did lick a nearby garage and an adjacent home.

In total, about 25 firefighters responded to the incident, TVF&R officials said.

No one was harmed in the fire, but the 40-foot by 100-foot barn did house two vehicles as well as several chickens.

It is unclear how many chickens were inside the barn at the time of the fire, said Piseth Pich, a fire district spokesman.

The fire caused an estimated $52,500 in damages to the barn and its contents.

According to Cassandra Ulven, a spokeswoman with TVF&R, fire investigators have been unable to find an official cause for the fire. She said the most likely cause was a heat lamp used to keep chickens warm inside the barn.

“There is a whole set of criteria that investigators use to say with absolute certainty what caused a fire,” Ulven said.

The Parrett Mountain Road blaze was the second barn fire of undetermined origin in Sherwood in the past week.

On Tuesday, Nov. 26, a barn in the 20500 block of Southwest Edy Road burned to the ground.

Several neighbors called 911 at about 11:38 a.m. on Nov. 26 to report the fire.

The blaze caused a black column of smoke that was visible for miles, TVF&R officials said.

Firefighters from Station 33 in Sherwood were the first to arrive and discovered the barn fully engulfed in flames.

No one was injured, but investigators said a cat was possibly inside the barn at the time of the fire.

More than 40 firefighters responded to the incident, including crews from Newberg and Washington County Fire District No. 2.

According to TVF&R officials, firefighters heard several small popping sounds coming from inside the structure as it burned. Those sounds likely came from small standard-sized propane tanks stored inside the barn.

At least one vehicle and farm equipment were stored in the barn as well.

Firefighters were eventually able to knock down the fire and minimize exposure to nearby trees. In a brief statement on Friday, fire district officials said investigators had not found a clear cause for the fire. Its cause was listed as “undetermined.”

The Edy Road fire caused an estimated $40,000 worth of damage to the barn and surrounding property.

Ulven said that although investigators were unable to say what exactly caused the two fires, there was no reason to suspect the two incidents were connected.

The incidents did illustrate how crews were able to work under difficult conditions.

Without easy access to water to fight the fires, crews had to bring water in using large tankers, Ulven said. That takes time and increases the risk of flames spreading to nearby structures, trees and other places.

“We didn’t have hydrants in any of these areas,” Ulven said. “This was a good measure of our capacity when you’re in a non-hydrated area. We are very happy with how crews performed.”

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