CANNON BEACH - What appeared to be a forest fire from downtown, lighting up emergency switchboards and sparking calls to the fire department, turned out to be a controlled burn Tuesday.

Weyerhaeuser Co. had notified Cannon Beach Fire and Rescue officials in advance about the slash burn east of town shortly after 9 a.m., Fire Chief Cleve Rooper said. But it was the first time in recent years that such a blaze was close enough to downtown to be readily visible, he said.

"Flames were visible (against) the tops of the trees," he said. From the perspective of some residents and business owners, "it was a very spectacular fire."

The procedure was a standard burning of piles of accumulated waste material on the landings after harvesting east of U.S. Highway 101 in an area only a fourth or half an acre, said Phil Penttila, a manager at Weyerhaeuser's district office in Seaside.

"We try to time those so winds blow smoke away from the town," he said, but state forestry officials ultimately determine when conditions are acceptable.

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