Thunderstorms that rolled through the region overnight sparked three fires early Friday, including one in Kings Valley that prompted officials to issue a “be ready” evacuation notice to five residences in the vicinity.
Philomath Fire and Rescue Deputy Fire Chief Rich Saalsaa said a preliminary estimate of the Kings Valley fire indicates eight to 10 acres burned. As of 7 a.m. Friday, Oregon Department of Forestry crews remained at the scene.
“It took some time to access the Kings Valley fire due to the remote location,” Saalsaa said about Philomath’s response, which included a brush rig with three personnel and two chief officers. “Dozers were ordered, as well as a hand crew, to help extinguish the Kings Valley fire.”
The dispatch to the Kings Valley came at 2:43 a.m. Friday with Philomath among the agencies responding. ODF crews and Hoskins-Kings Valley Rural Fire were also at the scene.
“Suppression was aided by a rain squall that came through the area shortly after 3:30 a.m., which slowed the fire spread,” Saalsaa said. “Lightning continued through the night.”
At one point, the situation led to firefighters contacting Benton County Emergency Services for a possible Level 1 evacuation, which was sent to five residences near the fire zone. A Level 1 notice notifies residents to prepare for a possible evacuation.
“The evacuation notice has since been lifted,” Saalsaa said.
Two other fires were ignited by lightning in forested areas near Alsea. Saalsaa said an Alsea Rural Fire crew extinguished one of those that was less than an acre in size. Philomath sent a brush rig at 1:15 a.m. with three personnel and a chief officer but were not needed.
A little later, a second lightning-caused fire in the Alsea vicinity started but by that time, Philomath was on the Kings Valley response. The fire was also contained in its initial burn area, Saalsaa said.