Access challenges hinder Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue effort

To get to the house, crews had to make their way down a nearly half-mile long muddy driveway

Crews from Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue (CCFR) faced significant access challenges to battle a blaze at a residence near Woodland Monday afternoon.

Units from (CCFR) were dispatched at 1:55 p.m. to a report of smoke coming from a house next to Interstate at the Lewis River Bridge near Woodland. Multiple callers reported smoke from the roof and eaves of the home.

Crews from Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue faced significant access challenges to battle a blaze at a residence near Woodland Monday afternoon. Photo courtesy Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue
Crews from Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue faced significant access challenges to battle a blaze at a residence near Woodland Monday afternoon. Photo courtesy Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue

CCFR crews were familiar with the residence and knew that making access to the structure would be difficult. The house is addressed as 37010 NW Pacific Highway, however to get to the house, crews had to make their way down a nearly half-mile long muddy driveway. 

The driveway was too steep and muddy for regular fire engines to make it to the structure, so the initial attack was done by using “Brush Units,” which are small 4-wheel drive vehicles with a pump and hose that are usually used for wildland firefighting. The first crew arrived at the top of the driveway at 2:02 p.m. By the time apparatus and firefighters could make it down the driveway, the house had become fully involved in fire.

According to Fire Chief John Nohr, “The fire had a head start before it was called in. When you add the very steep, muddy driveway, we were behind the curve from the beginning.”

Fire Boat 24 pumped water from the Lewis River to firefighters who had stretched large firehoses from FB-24 to the house to extinguish the fire. Photo courtesy Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue
Fire Boat 24 pumped water from the Lewis River to firefighters who had stretched large firehoses from FB-24 to the house to extinguish the fire. Photo courtesy Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue

To complete extinguishment, CCFR brought in Fire Boat 24 from Ridgefield. FB-24 is a 30-foot North River capable of delivering over 1,000 gallons of water per minute. FB-24 pumped water from the Lewis River to firefighters who had stretched large firehoses from FB-24 to the house to extinguish the fire.

The property owner told fire officials that there had been a renter at the property and that he was in the process of having them evicted. There was no evidence of people at the scene when CCFR units arrived. The house was too involved in fire for crews to safely go in and complete a search.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Clark County Fire Marshal’s Office.

Information provided by Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue.

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