by: Chase Allgood, Firefighters douse flames shooting from two vacant houses on Sunset Drive during a practice burn Monday evening.

Forest Grove firefighters wrapped up a month of multiple training burns on Monday evening when they battled two planned blazes well into the night.

The pair of vacant houses on Sunset Drive, next to the Forest Grove Aquatics Center, were recently purchased by Pacific University, which will turn the now-cleared parcels into much-needed parking spaces.

The arrangement was part of the deal with the City of Forest Grove, which is allowing the university to build a track and soccer stadium and new ball fields at nearby Lincoln Park.

Monday night's training exercise, which started at about 6 p.m., restricted traffic on Sunset Drive and limited parking at the swimming pool and adjacent university athletic complex.

Practice burns such as Monday night's are particularly important for volunteers, who need to participate in three training exercises before they can accompany a paid crew on a real fire call.

Forest Grove Fire and Rescue is a combination fire department, where both paid and volunteer firefighters respond to medical and fire calls.

The department has approximately 40 volunteers who provide fire and emergency medical services to 85 square miles of western Washington County from two fire stations, including the all-volunteer Gales Creek Station.

Last week's front-page article about the volunteer program is available on the News-Times' Web site,

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