With conditions just right on Wednesday for a wildfire to break out, eight Benton County fire agencies were dispatched to an area east of Blodgett to knock down a blaze that had ignited in grass and brush.
Capt. Rich Saalsaa of Philomath Fire & Rescue said the Oregon Department of Forestry listed the size of the fire at 17.8 acres. A source with the ODF could not be reached to confirm other details, including the possible cause.
EDITOR’S NOTE The size of the fire was updated from a preliminary estimate
of 9 acres to the official size of 17.8 acres. This story will be
updated if more details become available.
Philomath Fire & Rescue was dispatched to the fire at 2:10 p.m. to the site of the fire, an area off Highway 20 near the weigh station just east of Blodgett. Philomath sent an engine, water tender and brush truck — each with two personnel, along with incident commander Chancy Ferguson.
The Oregon Department of Forestry dispatched 10 personnel to the scene. Also responding were Blodgett-Summit Rural Fire (five personnel), Hoskins-Kings Valley Rural Fire (three personnel), Monroe Rural Fire (two personnel), Corvallis Fire (two personnel), Adair Rural Fire (two personnel) and Alsea Rural Fire (two personnel).
In all, three water tenders and 16 brush trucks were included in the response.
Coincidentally, earlier in the day, the Benton County Fire Defense Board announced that it was going to an all-county response from noon-8 p.m. Wednesday due to high temperatures and low humidity. Officials expected a system to move into the region during the evening hours to raise humidity levels. Saalsaa said an all-county response requires every agency in the county to respond to a wildfire with at least a brush truck or tender.
“This saves time in that you don’t have to wait to get on scene to find out you need more resources,” Saalsaa said.
At the Blodgett fire, Saalsaa said the fire agencies were at the scene for just over three hours. ODF firefighters remained longer to complete mop-up duties.
“This was a great example of agencies pulling together to attack a fire,” Saalsaa said. “High temperatures, lower humidity and winds were all factors in the spread of the fire, as well as hard to reach areas of terrain — there were still muddy areas from springs in the area.”
It was the latest call in a busy stretch for Philomath Fire & Rescue. Wednesday morning, the agency responded to a man who suffered serious injuries in an accident at a logging operation. On Tuesday afternoon, Fire & Rescue responded to a reported grass fire caused by a moving train off the Summit Highway near Atticus Lane. The property owner extinguished the fire.