News, utilities, wildfire

Power out in Banks, small brush fire knocked down behind Banks Veterinary Clinic

4:25 p.m. update: The Banks Fire District has amended their original statement that the fire was caused by a generator and now says that the exact cause of the fire remains under investigation. This story has been updated with that information and a first hand account from an on-the-scene witness.

While most of Banks had originally been slated to avoid an intentional power shutoff, residents in the city are without power anyway, following what Portland General Electric described as a tree on a power line knocking power out for the city.

It’s not certain when power will be restored, the city said in a statement released on their Facebook page. “PGE crews will evaluate the risk of fire in our area to determine if it is safe to energize portions of the system and limit impacts to customers,” the city said, noting that they were in contact with the utility. A community resource center operating out of a trailer at Jim’s Market in Banks remains operational, where device charging, ice, restrooms, and information from PGE representatives is available until 7 p.m.

Now, as the city grapples with high temperatures, hazy skies, and wildfire risk, the Banks Fire District said a small brush fire on the western edge of town in a field behind Main Street was extinguished thanks to the quick actions of a nearby business.

The approximately 40 by 40 foot fire was quickly extinguished, Banks Fire District public information officer Mitch Ward said, “thanks to the quick actions of the Banks Veterinary Clinic staff, and a few attentive neighbors, using garden hoses.”

Photo courtesy Randi Jenson
Photo courtesy Christina Bernards
Photo courtesy Kristina Bragdon

By the time district staff arrived from the Banks Fire District station located just up the road, the fire was almost entirely extinguished, Ward said.

“The vet clinic and [their] staff had no involvement in the cause of the fire,” Ward said.

Other than burned grass stubble, no damage occurred and no injuries happened as a result of the fire either.

In a phone call to the Banks Post, Gary Post—his wife Kim Post is part owner of the clinic and a doctor there—said he was helping set up the clinic’s generators to keep the clinic’s medications cold when he saw blue smoke rising several hundred feet away in the field of stubble at the city’s western edge.

Post and a staff member walked to the edge of the field and spotted flames. While he called 911, another staff member grabbed a fire extinguisher and entered the field to begin fighting the flames.

Others joined, Post said.

“The wind was blowing like crazy, so basically the whole staff was out stomping it out,” he said. “It was intense for about 15 minutes.”

The fire extinguisher was eventually depleted, and with the aid of a neighbor with the hose, the fire district had little remaining to do when they arrived.

“We were all doing the hokey-pokey on it,” Post said. “It was kind of amazing to see all the neighbors jump in.”

The Banks Fire District urged residents to be cautions with spark-generating devices such as power tools and generators. The area remains under a Red Flag Warning.

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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