Western Washington County fire crews fought two barn fires Saturday afternoon.
The first, in the Cornelius Rural Fire Protection District, came in just before 2:00 pm when a heat lamp in a chicken coop ignited the structure. With a strong breeze pushing the flames, the fire quickly spread to a large series of barns that were located within ten feet of the coop. An engine from the Cornelius Fire Station arrived, followed closely by a Forest Grove engine, and rapidly deployed a hose line to the burning barns. They were able to put a quick stop to the advancing flames and save nearly all of the horse equipment and tack that was stored in the barns.
Cornelius and Forest Grove fire crews were assisted by the North Plains Station of Washington County Fire District #2, as well as an engine from Banks Fire District #13, with a total of approximately 20 firefighters on scene. At one point, firefighters were assisted by a neighboring farmer who was able to use a back-hoe machine to move the smoldering hay that was preventing firefighters from accessing still burning portions of the barn. There were no injuries in this fire, all but one of the young chickens in the coop perished in the blaze. The fire charred a dune buggy, a small car, as well as other barn items with estimates exceeding $50,000 in damages to the structure and it's contents.
As fire crews cleaned up their hose from the first fire they were notified of a second barn fire, this time burning in the foothills of the Oregon Coast Range at 47600 SW Easterday Road in the Forest Grove Rural Fire Protection District. When a crew of volunteer firefighters (who had been providing coverage of the city during the first barn fire) from the Forest Grove Fire Station arrived they found the fire in this barn was already well involved. Parts of the structure had already collapsed, and initially fire crews were hampered by a arcing power line that had dropped after being burned through. Damage to this structure was extensive, and included a large motor home, a number of tractors, a boat, and other tools and equipment. Prior to the fire, the homeowner had been using a legal burn pile to clear debris from his property when the breezy conditions blew embers into his hay storage area. A malfunctioning garden hose prevented the resident from extinguishing the small fire that quickly grew to destroy his barn and everything inside. Damage estimates to the structure, and it's contents exceeded $300,000, there were no injuries to residents, firefighters, and livestock on scene. Forest Grove firefighters were assisted by those from Banks Fire District #13, Gaston Rural Fire Protection District, Washington County Fire District #2, Hillsboro Fire & Rescue, and the Cornelius Fire Department; many of the crews from the first barn fire left that scene to work this second call.