A propane torch that was being used to clear weeds from around a house on 33rd Place in a southeastern Philomath neighborhood on Wednesday afternoon sparked a fire in the front yard, Philomath Fire & Rescue reported.
Local firefighters responded to the call at 12:45 p.m. with the first units on the scene finding a fire measuring about 20 feet by 20 feet in the bushes and trees located in front of the home and threatening nearby structures.
Capt. Rich Saalsaa said Fire & Rescue’s response included a brush unit, structural engine and a truck — each with two personnel. Fire Chief Tom Miller served as the incident commander.
“The fire was started by a propane torch being used to clear weeds from around the house, which caught the wood chips on fire and then caught an arborvitae bush on fire,” Saalsaa said. “Because of the oily composition of their needles and their tendency to accumulate dead, dry plant material on the interior, arborvitae are like plant torches. They are extremely flammable and provide ideal fuel for high-intensity blazes.”
Firefighters knocked down the fire using water from a nearby hydrant. The incident occurred on 33rd Place, a quiet residential street north of Southwood Drive.
“Residents are reminded to never use propane or other flammable gas or liquid around other combustibles, particularly bark dust and chips,” Saalsaa said.