Philomath Fire & Rescue was out in full force on the Fourth of July with responses Tuesday afternoon and evening that included a significant grass fire and a structure fire in the Corvallis vicinity.
The threat of fire was increased with the National Weather Service’s issuance of a red flag warning. As such, when a fire was reported in an area off Colorado Lake Drive east of Corvallis, a countywide “all-call” went out, Fire & Rescue Deputy Fire Chief Rich Saalsaa said.
Described by Saalsaa as a “multi-acre” situation, the grass fire response occurred at 4:12 p.m. Assisting the Corvallis Fire Department, Philomath’s initial response included a brush rig with two personnel and Fire Chief Chancy Ferguson. Later, Philomath sent a water tender with two personnel.
“All told, there were eight different agencies from Benton and Linn counties that responded to the fire,” Saalsaa said, who added that mop-up was continuing at the scene as of 8:30 p.m.
Another major fire call came in at 6:25 p.m. with a structure fire involving two houses on Conser Place in Corvallis. Philomath sent a brush rig and Ferguson was redeployed from the grass fire to provide assistance.
Philomath further assisted its neighboring fire district with an engine and a crew of three moving up to Corvallis Fire Department Station 2 to help with coverage. While there, Philomath was dispatched to an alarm fire on the Oregon State University campus. Capt. Andy Louden assisted on the call.
Saalsaa said the grass and structure fires are under investigation and the fire alarm at OSU was determined to be a system malfunction that was likely caused by the heat.
“At one point, Philomath Fire & Rescue was covering the majority of the west county with five personnel at their main station,” Saalsaa said. “In total, 15 volunteer and paid staff members supported these incidents and ensured that our district remained covered.”
Saalsaa himself managed the district and movement of responding apparatus and personnel.
“Teamwork was key to make it all work this afternoon,” he said, “and to ensure that people were safe during the heat.”