More than 31,000 people lost power Monday into Tuesday as a September wind storm swept through the area
CLARK COUNTY — High winds brought down trees and power lines across Clark County overnight, keeping first responders and utility crews busy.
Just since midnight, dispatch logs for the Clark Regional Emergency Response Agency (CRESA) show well over three dozen calls for brush or bark dust fires, downed power lines, and residential fires.
Sustained east winds of 14-22 mph raked the area overnight, with gusts up to 38 mph recorded by the National Weather Service in Portland.
A high wind watch remains in effect through 1 p.m. today, with possible gusts up to 55 mph, and winds of 15-30 mph forecasted.
On Facebook, Jessica Schrader posted a dramatic video of a grass fire moving quickly through a field near Mill Plain, just west of PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center. Crews were able to quickly get the flames knocked down and prevent damage to any structures.
Others posted photos of downed trees and power lines, including one tree that fell on some vehicles parked along East 32nd Street at Grand Blvd in Vancouver.
Dameon Pesanti, a media specialist with Clark Public Utilities, said they had a maximum of 31,000 people without power last night, though 18,000 of those were quickly restored. As of 10 a.m., nearly 3,000 people were still without power in Clark County.
The agency had nine first responder crews assessing downed lines and making repairs, along with six construction crews. Two of those had water and fire trailers assigned to assist them in high-risk areas. Six other crews were assisting to remove trees and limbs that had fallen on lines, and three contracted construction crews were also assisting.
This afternoon, the winds should die down, but a red flag warning remains through Wednesday at 8 p.m., due to continued breezy and hot conditions with low humidity, even overnight.
“Conditions will be favorable for rapid fire spread which may threaten life and property,” the warning reads. “Use extra caution with potential ignition sources, especially in grassy areas. Outdoor burning is not recommended.”
After a smoke-filled Monday evening, the air quality in Clark County has improved to “good,” according to the Southwest Clean Air Agency.
Conditions are expected to deteriorate again Tuesday night into Wednesday, as the winds shift, bringing smoke from wildfires in Oregon and California back into the region.
The Washington Department of Natural Resources said there are currently nine large wildfires burning in the state, with 58 new fires reported overnight. Most of those have been contained, but high winds made fighting some of the fires from the air too dangerous.
This story will be updated…