Fire crews worked overnight to dig containment line around blaze that began Sunday afternoon; cause still under investigation

PHOTO COURTESY OF SCAPPOOSE FIRE DISTRICT - Fire crews were alerted to a wildfire off Scappose Vernonia Highway on Sunday afternoon, June 3. The fire was continuing to grow as of Monday morning, and multiple agencies were on scene working to contain and extinguish the fire. UPDATED 6/7/18 — A 42-acre wildfire in Scappoose is now fully contained according to fire crews, but firefighters continue to work on scene to extinguish the blaze.

Firefighting personnel are working to put out a 42-acre wildfire that began Sunday afternoon, June 3, off Scappoose-Vernonia Highway, which more than quadrupled in size over three days, but is reported to be fully contained as of Wednesday, June 6.

The fire was first reported to the Scappoose Fire District at 4:47 p.m. on Sunday as an uncontrolled eight-acre logging slash fire on private land near Scappoose-Vernonia Highway and Chapman Grange Road.

Oregon Department of Forestry officials from the Columbia City unit took command of the fire Monday morning and renamed the fire "Chapman Grange Road No. 1," a moniker that reflected the location of the blaze. The fire was located seven miles northwest of Scappoose, according to an ODF press release.

Throughout Sunday evening, the fire doubled to 16 acres with no containment and was reported to still be growing Monday, covering nearly 30 acres. By Monday afternoon, ODF crews reported the blaze to be 50 percent contained.

ODF took over the incident Sunday evening and worked through the night to dig a hand line around the fire perimeter, a technique used to contain fires.

More than 50 personnel reported to the blaze over the course of the week, with crews from the South Fork Forest Camp, Vernonia Fire Department and local agencies also assisting.

ODF officials noted the Columbia County area is usually one of the last areas in the state to dry out during the spring and summer season, and the aggressive blaze has officials taking note, a press release from the agency stated.

"[The fire] pushed across 12-foot wide gravel roads to reach more than 100 feet into timber before slowing down and burning in 5 to 6-foot high green Douglas-fir trees," Malcolm Hiatt, Columbia City unit forester, stated in the release. "Those young trees and the green underbrush burned amazingly well for this time of year."

ODF officials note that residents should remain aware of fire conditions and the dry weather across the state, especially during fire season.

"We are seeing large parts of northwest Oregon that haven't received significant rain in a month and a half or longer," Hiatt noted in the release. "That has left trees, brush and grass as dry as it might be in mid-summer.

Initially, fire crews had difficulty pinpointing the blaze's location after it was reported by a Life Flight helicopter crew that flew overhead on Sunday afternoon while transporting a patient to a Portland-area hospital.

The cause of the fire in still under investigation. No structures were threatened at any time during the course of the fire.

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