FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE District 12 Chief Lester Erwin
Thursday, August 07, 2014 PFD Chief Mike Heston
BRUSH FIRE THAT THREATENED HOME CAUSED BY WELDER'S SPARK
PULLMAN-A four-acre brush fire that threatened a home Thursday afternoon on Highway 270, just east of Pullman, apparently was caused by spark from a welder working too close to a brushy hillside.
Whitman County Rural Fire District 12 was dispatched to the fire near Wheatland Express at 2:42 pm and immediately called in mutual aid. The fire was moving up a hillside rapidly and threatened a home at the top.
Firefighters and equipment from the cities of Pullman, Palouse, Colton and Moscow Rural responded with personnel and engines, brush trucks, and water tenders. In addition, two tanker trucks from McGregors and Harvey Lehmitz were on the scene to re-supply water to the trucks.
Chief Lester Erwin said the fire moved rapidly up the hillside and it got within 150 yards of the home. Fire crews got lines around the house and saved it from any damage.
Erwin said he was grateful for the quick response from his crew and the firefighters from around the area. Since they were dealing with steep terrain he said he needed the additional personnel to work the fire with hand lines. Several trees were scorched by the blaze and one power pole was blackened.
A worker with PWC construction, a company putting in sewer lines along the Highway 270 for the city of Pullman, said a spark from welder got away from them and apparently started the fire.
Erwin reminded residents that with the dry conditions and a burn ban in effect for most of Whitman County, everyone should be extremely cautious when working with any equipment that causes sparks. In this particular case, there was plenty of room away from the hillside and on asphalt where the welding could have taken place safely without incident.
Fire crews stayed on the scene for several hours after it was extinguished to check on any possible hot spots.
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(Written by Glenn Johnson, PFD/PIO)