Authorities: Corvallis fire caused by humans; mop-up work expected to continue into next week


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CORVALLIS, Oregon — A wildfire that threw a scare into Corvallis over the weekend had a human cause, authorities said.

Investigators aren't revealing details of the origin of the fire, but they're particularly interested in activity Friday night near the entrance of a park in north Corvallis, said Fire Prevention Officer Jim Patton.

High winds drove the late-night fire through brush and trees to within a few yards of an apartment complex, and then it threatened upscale houses on a hill.

More than 200 residences were evacuated, but nobody was hurt.

The damage was minor, the Gazette-Times ( reported: scorched decks and fencing and a small fire in a dividing wall between a pair of townhouses that crews quickly put out.

"It doesn't get any closer than that," said Andy Louden, battalion chief in the Corvallis Fire Department. "We were pretty lucky."

He said the wind picked up after dark and got squirrely, sending the fire in an unexpected direction and setting off a regional scramble to get fire equipment to the scene.

After crews stopped the flames from getting to the Timberhill Meadows Apartments, fire equipment lumbered up a power line service road to get up the houses, and a state Department of Forestry bulldozer scraped a fire line around the blaze.

Patton said mop-up work in the 86-acre fire area is expected to last into next week, and it may take several days to wrap up the investigation.

"As the season continues, hot and dry conditions are going to get more dangerous until we get rainfall," he said. "We're not out of this yet, and we need the community's help."

Information from: Gazette-Times,

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