Kansas City, News, wildfire

Kansas City field fire caused by neighboring burn pile

A Kansas City field was ignited in flames after wind “likely spread embers” from a neighboring property’s illegal burn pile Tuesday afternoon, Forest Grove Fire & Rescue said.

At 12:43 p.m., crews from Forest Grove Fire & Rescue were dispatched to reports of a field fire near the 6600 block of NW Kansas City Road in the Kansas City community between Banks and Forest Grove.

“While crews were responding, a column of smoke was observed in the distance, prompting the chief officer to upgrade the response to a full first alarm assignment,” FGF&R said in a press release.

Upon arrival, just ten minutes after being dispatched, fire crews arrived to find two areas of a cut crimson clover field burning.

Using a four-wheel-drive apparatus, crews drove around the perimeter of the fire, taking about ten minutes to extinguish the flames, according to the agency.

Video of a Kansas City field fire July 2, 2024 courtesy Forest Grove Fire & Rescue

The approximate location of the field fire.

After that, crews took additional time to look for remaining hot spots.

“Due to the quick stop of the flames, incident command was able to cancel additional responding resources,” FGF&R said.

Firefighters were able to keep the flames from spreading to the unprocessed crop still in the field.

“It was found that the field caught fire by a neighbor burning debris on their property. Slightly windy conditions likely spread embers from the burn pile, into the nearby field,” FGF&R said.

Fire crews completely extinguished the burn pile to halt any further fires, and made the area cool to the touch.

A county-wide burn ban began Monday morning, just hours after lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry in far west Washington County entered fire season.

The move, at the advisement of the Washington County Fire Defense Board applies to the jurisdictions of all Washington County-based fire agencies, including Banks Fire District, Cornelius Fire Department, Forest Grove Fire & Rescue (which provides service to the Forest Grove Rural Fire Protection District), Gaston Fire District, Hillsboro Fire & Rescue, and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue.

A burn ban in all Washington County fire agencies and districts began July 1

“Outdoor fires in violation of this burn ban may be immediately extinguished,” a press release describing the burn ban noted. “If a fire agency responds to a fire that has been started in willful violation of this burn ban, the person responsible may be liable for all costs incurred, as well as legal fees per ORS 478.965.”

The burn pile believed to have ignited a Kansas City field fire July 2, 2024 courtesy Forest Grove Fire & Rescue

“We won’t take any actions beyond a thorough extinguishment of that pile,” said FGF&R spokesperson Dave Nemeyer in a message to this newspaper. “But further fires on the property could bring legal actions, including requiring reimbursement of the costs to extinguish the fire it causes,” he said.

“We had cooperative land owners and their pile won’t be an issue again until they decide to burn it after the fall season arrives,” he added.

Also aiding on scene were crews from Banks Fire District and the Cornelius Fire Department.

Forest Grove Fire & Rescue added a reminder that fire departments across Washington County had enacted a burn ban — yard debris, agricultural and logging debris burning — Monday morning.

With temperatures expected to reach 100 degrees this weekend, it is a good idea to wet down old burn piles in case there is pockets of heat still left in it,” the agency added.

Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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