Firefighters on Friday kept a house fire on Oxford Avenue from spreading to a neighboring residence. The cause has not yet been released.
By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
Independence Day celebrations in the Centralia area passed with no significant fireworks-related property damage, despite the tinder dry conditions outdoors, according to Riverside Fire Authority.
RFA, the largest department in Lewis County, spoke through a news release this morning, applauding those citizens who made the effort to try to reduce the risks of the fire season during their displays.
“It was my observation that folks were taking extra care this year to be sure that they had water available to them during fireworks use,” Riverside’s Public Information Officer Capt. Scott Weinert said in a written statement.
In the 24-hour hour period that included July 4, firefighters from the department responded to eight fireworks related incidents, according to Weinert.
They primarily consisted of small bush or grass fires that were extinguished or no longer burning on arrival of RFA units, he stated.
They also answered 10 other emergency medical calls.
Firefighters in the city of Chehalis made it through the holiday without any serious fireworks-related incidents, but did go out to a small brush fire today on 15th Street near William Avenue, Fire Investigator Ted McCarty said.
McCarty said he wasn’t sure what ignited it, but the individual who called it in located an unlit sparkler bomb in the area which was turned over to police.
At the other end of the county, Fourth of July could almost have been called relaxing for one fire department.
The one call Vader firefighters responded to was for a report of an illegal burn that turned out to actually be a legal campfire in a fire pit, Cowlitz-Lewis Fire District 20 Chief Richard Underdahl said.
“We were ready, but nothing happened,” Underdahl said.
They were asked to join the Toledo Fire Department last night for a tree on fire and again today for a brush fire along Toledo-Salmon Creek Road, but in both cases were told they were no longer needed before they arrived, he said.
Under current conditions, Toledo, Vader and Winlock are automatically responding jointly to any brush or other fires, he said.
At the far west end of the county, all was well in Pe Ell, according to Lewis County Fire District 11 Chief Michael Krafczyk.
In Randle, Fire Chief Jeff Jaques reports no fireworks-related fires.
And in Onalaska, there were zero fire calls for Lewis County Fire District 1.
“The public really seemed to listen to the urges from the fire world not to set off fireworks,” District 1 Chief Andrew Martin said.
Information isn’t yet available yet for other fire departments in the county.
Also, the cause of a fire that virtually gutted a two-story house at the north end of Centralia the evening before the holiday has not been released. Four fire departments battled the blaze on the 1500 block of Oxford Avenue that displaced its owner, according to Riverside Fire Authority.
Nobody was hurt, but three cats were missing, Fire Chief Mike Kytta indicated.
Separately, at the far east end of the county, residents may be seeing smoke from a fire on the west flank of Mount Adams, at the approximately 5,300 foot elevation.
The fire in the wilderness area was discovered on Friday and was believed to cover about 250 acres yesterday. It is burning in areas of open stands and meadows, as well as heavy timber, according to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. It’s burning near a segment of the Pacific Crest Trail.
It’s been named the Horseshoe Fire.
During initial attack on Friday, a helicopter worked to check the fire’s spread with bucket drops while a ground crew sized up the fire and evaluated containment line location. Firefighters and district recreation personnel walked the affected trails and escorted forest visitors out of the area.
It’s within the Mt. Adams Wilderness south of Riley Camp Trail #64, in the northeast portion of Skamania County. Closure information is being posted at trailheads and in affected communities.
Although Weinert with Riverside was able to offer a positive report on the holiday, he asks that everyone continue to have a heightened state of awareness of fire safety as the summer season continues.
More to come tomorrow.