May 11, 2019 — Multiple fires were reported in the Siuslaw region during a 12-hour period on Thursday and Friday, one of which resulted in the loss of a home on Collard Lake, and another that was a result of arson.
“It’s been a busy couple of hours,” said newly installed Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue and Western Lane Ambulance (SVFR/WLAD) Chief Director Michael Schick.
The first fire began around 4 p.m. in the Westlake area on 3rd St.
“The day before, a resident there had been burning some brush and it reignited,” said Schick. “That’s typical with brush fires. You think it’s out, and all it takes is a little warmth, a little wind and a little ember to start up again. That had the potential to be really bad because it was at the bottom of the hill, and fires like to go straight up.”
Hours after the brush fire, SVFR and WLAD received a call at 11 p.m. regarding a house fire on Collard Lake Way, north of Florence. The home, which was surrounded by trees and thick shrubbery along a narrow gravel road, was fully involved when firefighters arrived.
The residents were out and safe, so it was a purely defensive fire for us,” Schick said. “It did start to advance into the tree line, but they knocked that down pretty quick.”
With the majority of personnel and apparatus involved in knocking down the house fire, a call for mutual aid went out to Reedsport Fire Department as back up in covering Florence should another emergency occur in town. Meanwhile, SVFR Crews were able to contain the fire to the home and avoid what could have been a dangerous, fast-spreading fire through the heavily wooded area.
As the majority of fire personnel came back from the house fire and the Reedsport department was released, a vehicle fire was reported at 980 Tamarack St. Crews arrived to find the vehicle engulfed in flames and within a few feet of another vehicle, as well as a home. Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire quickly.
Florence Police also responded due to reports that the vehicle fire was the result of arson. After interviewing witnesses and discovering additional evidence at the scene, a suspect was identified, and police were attempting to locate the suspect as of Friday morning. The investigation into the arson is on-going.
Finally, around 9 a.m. on Friday, another brush fire was reported just south of Florence.
“It was a small burn pile, and the residents didn’t know there was a burn ban,” Schick said.
The region is currently under a temporary suspension of the outdoor burning, with a possible resumption of the season on Thursday, May 16, if rain comes.
“Right now, it’s unusual weather,” said Schick. “It’s warm, it’s dry and things can get out of control very quickly. Until we can get some rain, which looks like it might happen next week, people just have to be careful.”