Five fire agencies responded to the scene of a three alarm high risk grass fire this afternoon near Keizer, located in a large wheat field. A farmer had been cutting the chaff in his harvested wheat field when a bearing went out on the tractor and caught the field on fire.
The fire was dispatched at 4:40 pm near 35th Ave NE and Perkins Road NE. Firefighters from Keizer Fire District, Marion County Fire District #1, Salem Fire Department, Silverton Fire District and Woodburn Fire District responded to the fire which was threatening several homes.
When firefighters arrived the fire was being pushed by the wind and traveling at a rapid rate towards six houses on the north side of the field. Early evacuations notices were made to the home owners. They were notified they needed to be ready to leave the property at a moment’s notice, if the fire got closer.
Firefighters were able to get the fire under control with the help of a local farmer Bob Zielinski. He provided his tractor and large disc to help create a safety barrier between the homes and then the fire. The tractor plowed a 20 foot wide perimeter around the entire burned area allowing firefighters to “mop up” the remainder of the hot spots. Approximately ten acres were burned, but most of the field was saved. Firefighters were on scene for over two hours fighting the fire. No homes were lost or damaged.
Salem Fire Department provided a Resource Officer to assist with staffing due to the size of the event. Sublimity Fire District moved up to Marion County Fire Station One to assist with other calls. In all, 31 firefighters, four engines, six tenders, three brush rigs, one rescue and two command officers were on scene fighting the fire. No firefighters were injured.
Accessing the fire was made difficult by individual’s blocking the roadway with their vehicles wanting to watch the fire and firefighters. Fire officials would like to remind residents to give firefighters and equipment plenty of room and distance when working.