Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



UPDATE: Gas-powered chain saw without a spark arrester caused brush to erupt in flames off Redland and Neibur roads, threatening 17 structures.

COURTESY PHOTO: CLACKAMAS FIRE - Clackamas Fire incident commanders plan a course of tackling the April wildfire near Oregon City.

A rapidly moving brush fire consumed about 40 acres of land and prompted the evacuation of more than a dozen homes in the Oregon City area in the afternoon of Friday, April 16.

Clackamas Fire investigators said April 20 that the fire was caused by someone using a gas-powered chain saw without a spark arrester in place. Brandon Paxton of Clackamas Fire District #1 said this property owner accidentally ignited the fire from a spark that discharged from the saw and landed in light, dry fuels in the brush.

"Due to significant winds in the area, the fire quickly spread," Paxton said. "The fire grew beyond what the property owner could extinguish on their own, at which point, 911 was activated."

The Neibur Fire erupted around 2:30 p.m. off of Redland and Neibur roads, officials said. It immediately threatened seven structures with another 10 structures threatened soon after.

Evacuation levels from the fire in Oregon City were reduced about three hours after it erupted. Eight residences on Pam Drive and four on Redland Road were asked to evacuate.

Other Level 2 "get ready to evacuate" orders previously in place have been lowered to a precautionary Level 1 for all addresses off Kraft Road and all cross streets plus Edenwild Lane.

"What we're working against is the wind," Paxton said. "We're seeing that fire being pushed sometimes to the top of the trees."

Paxton said the fire was in a difficult area and the crews are "working hard to contain it."

One firefighter sustained minor injuries while working on the fire line and was taken to an area hospital for evaluation and has since been released.

By 6 p.m. Friday, officials said the fire was controlled and no structures were lost.

Neibur Fire's lesson for property owners is to ensure spark arresters are in place when operating gas-powered equipment. Paxton recommended people take extra caution with using power tools when increased fire danger is present.

"As an added safety precaution, consider having a hose or access to water to quickly extinguish a fire during its initial phase of burning," Paxton said.

It may only be mid-April, but the dry and breezy conditions coupled with unseasonably warm temperatures combined to elevate the fire danger through the weekend.

There was no rain in the forecast until sometime this week and the temperatures were expected to climb into the 80s over the weekend. The wind returned as the offshore flow kicked back up, and officials said extra caution should be continued.

Clark County is the latest county to issue a burn ban that took effect Friday and was scheduled to last for a week. All burning permits issued before Friday have been rescinded.

In Oregon, Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, Polk and Linn counties have already issued burn bans.

KOIN 6 News contributed to this report.

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