Firefighters spent Friday evening battling a blaze which erupted at a landfill south of Hillsboro.

        Firefighters from Hillsboro and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue battled a large blaze at a local landfill on Friday evening.

Hillsboro firefighters were called to Waste Management Northwest, a landfill and recycling center at 3205 S.E. Minter Bridge Road.

According to firefighters, a wood chip pile caught fire at about 8:21 p.m., Friday, May 5.

The wood chip pile was nearly 200 feet long and as high as 40 feet tall, firefighters said. The fire quickly spread to a pile of scrap wood just as large. The blaze was upgraded to a full first-alarm fire, which brings additional firefighters and response.

"Due to (the) unlimited fuel supply and a persistent wind, the nearby scrap wood pile quickly became engulfed," firefighters said in a statement.

The property's landfill was unaffected by the fire, firefighters said.

"Due to the volatile nature of the wood pile and the danger associated with it, firefighters took a strategic stance to surround the pile," firefighters said.

Initial response was provided by the Hillsboro Fire Department, however, the affected address lies within Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue Fire District.

     TVF&R responded on the upgraded alarm assignment and worked alongside Hillsboro Fire Department and Cornelius Fire through the evening.

This fire posed several challenges to firefighters, according to Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, which assisted in tackling the blaze.

The significant load of wood provided an endless supply of fuel for the fire, firefighters said, and its location just south of Hillsboro meant fire hydrants were not readily available. Water had to be shuttled in to the facility. The property had a remote water source, but firefighters said the size of the blaze required more water than firefighters could pump from the site.

In addition, wind blew embers away from the fire and into grassy areas nearby. A fire engine monitored the area downwind of the fire through the evening to ensure no spot fires ignited.

"Ultimately, the fuel load of the scrap wood forced firefighters to take a defensive stance and focus on containment to the scrap pile," firefighers said.

No injuries were reported but a front loader was burned, with possible damage to a second.

TVF&R Firefighters remained on scene throughout the night and Saturday morning.

The wood piles have begun to be slowly torn apart to allow hot spots to be exposed and extinguished if possible, but firefighters said the wood piles still contain hidden wood and remain hot.

Neighbors in the area can expect to see smoke at times throughout the weekend.

Investigators say the fire began in the 'hog fuel' pile, also known as wood chips and bark. The wind then ultimately pushed embers to the scrap wood area, causing its ignition. There were no indications this fire is suspicious in nature.

Loss of revenue from the piles, operations, and damage to the front loader is estimated to be around $200,000.

By Geoff Pursinger
Editor, Hillsboro Tribune
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