05-19 grass fire

Mid Columbia Fire and Rescue personnel wrap up their duties Sunday afternoon after containing a fire which burned an acre and a half of grass along Cherry Heights road in The Dalles.

A grass fire that burned Sunday afternoon on a property on Cherry Heights Road in The Dalles has been contained, officials said.

The fire burned around an acre and a half after an open burn pile of debris got away, said Bob Palmer, Mid Columbia Fire and Rescue Chief.

It’s the third grass fire the agency has responded to over the past two weeks, Palmer said.

“It’s atypical for this time of year,” MCFR assistant fire chief David Jensen said.

There were no injuries reported in the blaze, Palmer said.

Palmer said houses were threatened by the fire, but units responded in time to contain the fire.

“This one almost got away,” Palmer said. By 4:30 in the afternoon, firefighters had been wrapping up their work and soaking the yard.

Palmer advised people performing open burns that even though the grass may be green, there can be twigs and other debris hidden underneath that are “completely dry.”

Palmer said people burning piles of debris should take note of the conditions when planning a burn. If it’s windy or warm out, people “need to take precautions so they don’t let it get away from you.”

“Wet it down, stir it, wet it down, stir it, and make sure it’s dead out,” Palmer said.

Palmer also encouraged people to use gas barbecue grills, as opposed to the grills which use charcoal briquettes since it is easier to contain.

Wasco and Hood River counties are implementing a burn ban starting June 1 to reduce the risk of wildfire from escaped debris burns. Fire season restrictions began Saturday, May 15 on Oregon Department of Forestry lands in Wasco and Hood River counties. (See this week's cover story for more details).

Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue units responded to the grass fire, as well as Dallesport Fire District and Oregon Department of Forestry units.