ODF, South Fork Forest Camp crews mobilize to fight small Columbia Co. wildfires

VERNONIA – A storm cell moved through the region overnight, with multiple lightning strikes recorded in Columbia County north of Vernonia around 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. on Thursday, August 29.

At least four small fires ignited as a result, with crews from the Oregon Department of Forestry, fire agencies out of Clatskanie and Scappoose, and industry crews from the Evenson Logging Company working through the early morning hours — ODF crews began work at 3:30 a.m. — to halt the spread of the fires before they could become a larger threat.

The Oregon Department of Forestry stages a vehicle at the Gales Creek Fire Station on Tuesday, August 27. Photo: Chas Hundley

As of 9:30 a.m., one crew from the joint ODF and Oregon Department of Corrections South Fork Forest Camp, a prison facility located in the Tillamook State Forest, were en route to assist.

According to Mike Cafferata, District Forester out of Forest Grove, the largest fire is a 40′ by 60′ fire in rough terrain that crews had to walk in to for access.

As of about 9:30 a.m., the spread of all fires had been halted, with crews moping up the remains of the fires.

Cafferata warned that the threat of additional lightning strikes is not over, with the agency tracking another storm.

“We are watching a cell to our south hoping it tracks up the valley, not in forestland,” Cafferata wrote in an email.