2018-02-15 / Front Page

Recent fires doused in short order; ‘new’ ladder truck is instrumental

A fire at PaperPak in the wee hours of Saturday morning was contained and “knocked down” in short order thanks to efforts by local firefighters and Washington’s relatively new ladder truck.

The fire occurred just before 4 a.m. and was “mostly contained to the dryer and vent,” according to Washington Fire Chief C.J. Gilland. However, it took some time to “mop up the hot spots,” Gilland added, and a vent on the roof had heavy fire and smoke coming from it.

“We used our free, million-dollar ladder truck to check for extension,” Gilland explained, touting the truck’s ability to go up and over, allowing firefighting efforts from angles not possible with any of the department’s other apparatus. “We had 25 personnel show up, with three coming from county departments to assist,” Gilland reported.

The PaperPak fire was the second in the past month which utilized the ladder truck. A fire at Callaway Manufacturing occurred in the silo behind the building “where we used the truck to check for extension and to place personnel for fire operations,” Gilland said. Eighteen personnel responded.

Gilland called attention to the truck itself which was grant-funded “at a meager $42,000 (the city’s part) compared to its list price of $1.2 million. One could even say the truck was free, considering it came equipped with over $40,000 worth of fire and rescue equipment.”

There was a more recent fire on Saturday, February 10, at about 8 p.m. at 2737 Bartram Trace Road. The fire started in the back of the house and spread to the front.

Firefighters made entry through the front and knocked the fire back, stopping it where they found it. “There were a lot of personal items salvaged,” Gilland reported, and there were 39 responding firefighters.

“This was one of the best multi-department responses we’ve had in a long time, which is good for our citizens and the safety of our firefighters,” Gilland commented. “This improvement in coordination has also helped our ISO ratings which is saving citizens money on insurance. The fire chiefs appreciate the effort of the firefighters and their timely responses. It is definately a team effort.”

Gilland further reported on a house fire in Rayle, on the Philomath Road, on Sunday, February 4, during a rain storm.

“The fire had a good head start before personnel arrived,” the chief said, “but they put a fast stop to it. The house was mostly damaged by the fire with only a couple of rooms still standing.” Firemen were told that the occupant was at home, performed primary and secondary searches, but could not locate her. She was later located at her place of employment.

The cause is still undetermined, but Gilland commented that there was a tremendous coordinated response from several departments in the county with a strong showing of personnel.

“It was good to see the group effort from so many departments,” he said.

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