Multiple fires, fallen trees reported in overnight windstorm
After a night of howling winds and smoky skies in northwest Oregon resulted in fires, fallen trees and power outages for thousands, crews from local agencies are assessing the damage and cleaning up throughout Newberg and Dundee.
Officials from Portland General Electric say 5,200 customers were without power in Yamhill County as of 1 p.m. Tuesday, and a total of 80,000 customers were without power across PGE's service area. The outages, officials say, are driven by the high winds that started Monday evening.
Small brush fires were reported in the Newberg and Dundee area and attended to by local fire agencies, but one blaze stood out from the pack. In the 28000 block of Northeast Wilsonville Road, a two-alarm fire at about 9 p.m. spread to a chicken coop and adjacent home.
"The resident had evacuated with one of their dogs," TVF&R spokeswoman Cassandr Ulven said. "The other three dogs were too frightened to come out and were later rescued by firefighters. One dog was given oxygen at the scene and reportedly taken to a veterinarian ..."
Investigators say the fire was started by a transformer that exploded and caused nearby vegetation to take flame. The outcome of the fire, according to a release from Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, was devastating. Witnesses said the small, one-story house was completely consumed.
"The fast-moving fire destroyed the home, chicken coop and approximately a quarter-acre of trees, brush and grass," the TVF&R release said. "The residents were able to safely escape without injury."
Residents posted photos on Facebook of fallen trees and downed powerlines throughout the city, including significant damage to homes and other structures. One building that fell victim to a fallen portion of a tree was the Scout House at Memorial Park, which was crushed by a large piece of a nearby oak tree that crashed through the roof. This is not the first time the property has fallen victim to a tree's collapse.
Officials at George Fox University report only a handful of branches down throughout campus, plus a smaller tree that will likely need to come down. A woodchipper was set up on campus to dispose of fallen materials and grounds crews could be seen early Tuesday morning clearing debris on campus.
The northern skies over Newberg were lit repeatedly by exploding electrical transformers and power was lost through most of the northern part of the city for hours. Crews from TVF&R, PGE and local police cruisers with their sirens wailing, scrambled across the city throughout the evening, tending to calls from residents of power outages and trees falling on structures and vehicles.
The Chehalem Park & Recreation District closed all of its trails Tuesday morning due to wind damage and downed trees and encouraged residents to avoid the areas until further notice. Some street lights throughout Newberg were flashing red, including the one at the intersection of Highway 99 and Springbrook Road, as portions of the city steadily regain power.
Graphic intern Colin Hyatt contributed to the reporting for this story. More information will be added throughout the day as it becomes available.
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