ARCH CAPE — The wildland fires north of Arch Cape that fire crews have been working to extinguish for almost two days now cover approximately 100 acres of forest owned by Stimson Lumber Co.
As of Thursday, 68 fire personnel remained at the scene, battling the blaze and grateful for the morning’s rainfall.
“Within an hour, the rain knocked the flames down, and now the firefighters are focused on digging around the stumps and piles to extinguish remaining hot spots,” Night Operations Chief Dave Horning said.
The fires, which are burning east of U.S. Highway 101 between mileposts 34 and 35, are roughly 25 percent contained, according to Ashley Lertora, public information officer with the Oregon Department of Forestry.
But fire crews don’t know when the fires will be fully contained, she said, adding that the fires have not spread to Tillamook County.
No evacuations are in place, and no injuries have been reported, she said.
Firefighters intend to take advantage of the rain while it lasts; the change in weather is predicted to continue only a short time before the dry, cold east wind returns this weekend, she said.
The fires were first reported around noon on Tuesday. Strong east winds appear to have fanned the flames of Stimson Lumber’s slash piles, causing the fires to spread.
The cause of the fires is under investigation, however, Lertora said. It is unknown whether a slash pile had been rekindled or a new flame had sparked.
Firefighters from Cannon Beach Fire and Rescue and neighboring Clatsop County fire departments responded. Stimson Lumber and Oregon Department of Forestry personnel have also been aiding in the fire suppression effort.
The rural fire departments were called off the fire yesterday, except for Lewis & Clark Volunteer Fire Department, which still has a water tender at the scene, Lertora said.
Last January, another major wildland fire — which also began with slash burns on properties owned by Stimson and Weyerhaueser — torched more than 300 acres in Arch Cape and Falcon Cove.
That fire was closer to an inferno that blackened virtually the entire area. The current fires are patchier, Lertora said, and have not destroyed all 100 acres.