There was a fire on Aug.14 on York Hill Road in Hood River. The fire was approximately two acres in size, but has since been put out, according to the Mosier Fire Facebook Page.
Steve Curtis, whose family has owned property near York Hill Road for 81 years, said they were evacuated for the first time due to the fire.
Curtis said the evacuation came as a surprise. He was relaxing on his front porch and noticed the smell of smoke, when his friend, who owns a towing company and always has a scanner on, called him to let him know there was a fire near his property.
Curtis said he went to investigate, but when he reached his property line, the fire department was already there, so he went to speak to one of the firefighters.
“He says, ‘I think you guys should get your stuff together, your important papers and whatnot. Get out of there. Immediately,’” Curtis said.
Though he had been instructed to leave, he wanted to help put out the fire, Curtis said.
“We got our papers, got in the car and left,” he said. “Though my preference would’ve been to get my shovel, get up there and start putting a fireline in.”
Curtis wasn’t new to fires. He used to fight fire with the forest service, he said, and had learned a lot about what it is to protect your property as a landowner. He had thought about going to the back of a neighbor’s property to sneak onto his own property and get tools, but ultimately respected the evacuation.
Curtis was the only one evacuated, he said.
Though there were suspicions it was caused by a faulty catalytic converter, he said, the cause of the fire has not been confirmed.
Curtis was originally evacuated at about 3:30 p.m. that Saturday, and they were allowed back on their property by that evening at about 9 p.m., when the threat had been deterred enough.
Sunday morning, Curtis took his shovel up to the fireline, but was asked by firefighters if he could go check his property for spot fires. He found a few spot fires and was able to help flag them. The fires could’ve gotten much worse if he hadn’t.
“There’s a small cabin that’s been there for many years, and the leaves and needles on top of the roof of that caught fire, [but] they got put out before the roofing material could catch,” Curtis said. “There were three small outbuildings that were threatened and four antique vehicles.”
Though they’ve never been evacuated before, fire has been a concern to the property owners for a long time, Curtis said. It’s not something they’re strangers to.
“There’s two houses burned to the ground here on this property,” he said. “Both of them were before Westside Fire Department came into existence. There’s also been two lightning strike fires on the back of the property. And those were almost impossible to get under control.”
There have also been a few other fires since.
“I’d say that there’s already been five fires before. This one makes six,” Curtis said. “And having fought fires, it’s pretty foremost on a guy’s mind.”