Car sparks doused fire near Salem

Withdrawals are in effect at this time

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) – Residents of South Salem returned to their homes after a spark emanating from a car helped to evacuate people in a small area for a few hours on Monday afternoon.

When the driver of a faulty car got out of the vehicle, the abandoned car rolled down a hill and hit an electric pole, setting the brush on fire. The Marion County Sheriff’s Office quickly issued Level 3 “Go” clearance for 35 homes along Wight Springs Road.

By 4 pm, the fire was cordoned off and doused, but the evacuation was still on. No one was reported to be injured.

Frank Stephenson, chief of the Salem Fire Battalion, said the evacuation level was reduced to Level 2 “B Ready” so everyone could go home.

“We are going to sit on it all night. We are going to do some hay rigs and a water tender here and we are going to keep an eye on it,” Stephenson said. “We will drive it all night and come back and Will look into it well tomorrow (Tuesday).”

The fire was brought under control relatively quickly and no structures were burnt. A tractor trailer was damaged. It is not yet clear how many acres of land were burnt in the fire.

Zach Yenne has lived his entire life in South Salem. His wife called and told him that the fire was only a few miles from their house. He was very worried considering how long we have been in drought.

“It’s definitely drying up,” he said. “The best way I can put it, I remember being a kid and there was green moss everywhere. And now I am raising kids and I don’t see that much green moss.”

As a newly trained wildland firefighter, Yen arrives at the scene to offer his help.

There are houses of his friends in that area.

“I think about all the work that people put into their properties and being able to lose it within hours,” he told Coin6 News.

Yen knows the pain from personal experience during the fire of Labor Day 2020.

“We have a house in Detroit that partially burned down and the Philomath Fire really saved it,” he said.

Those wildfires inspired him to become a wildland firefighter this summer.

“If you can carry a gallon of water, you can put out a fire if you put a fire under your car,” Yen told Coin6 News. “If you’re a trucker, always carry a shovel with you. There are many ways this can happen and many ways it can be prevented.”

KOIN 6 News will have more information soon.

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