Thursday, July 30, 2009

Yamhill County Fire at the Fair

Yamhill County Fair Incident

Yesterday evening an explosion and fire occurred at the Fair at one of the concession booths almost directly across the pathway from the Delashmutt Arena building.

According to one of the vendors and the booth operator, a leak somehow developed in a large propane bottle or the hose from the bottle and the pooled propane vapors ignited in a vigorous explosion. The explosion and fire destroyed an aluminum ladder at the site, burned the right rear corner of the tenting material, a large pile of supplies used by the operator and destroyed much of the site next door.

The propane bottle involved fell over making it difficult to extinguish the blaze. Two other large propane bottles survived the event without incident .

Two Yamhill County CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) members who were in the area on a break from duties at the rear gate, were credited by the concession operator, her brother (who also assisted in extinguishing the blaze) and a supplier, with taking a proactive position in assuming control of initial response activities.

One of the CERT men ensured that 911 was called, while the other grabbed a fire extinguisher and attacked the fire. The booth operators’ brother was assisting as was the second CERT member. A Yamhill County inmate also assisted by directing a steam of water from a garden hose on the pile of combustibles. Hats off to all four gents.

Together, this collection of men who chose to act rather than watch, saved the situation from becoming something MUCH more serious. If the fire had not been extinguished quickly, there was a risk of one or more of the tanks exploding and this is one of the great concerns for firefighters, the explosion of a pressure vessel containing flammable material. A potential MAJOR emergency was averted by quick thinking!

Coincidentally, the CERT members had recently completed the CERT course that included instruction on the proper use of a fire extinguisher. One of the CERT men remarked that it was just like he was taught in the class: a slow and methodical approach using proper techniques works well.

This incident also demonstrates the absolute need for the regulations that are in place requiring these vendors to have fire extinguishers on site.

Congratulations and THANK YOU to all involved.

Doug McGillivray

FEMA urges caution for those returning home after wildfires

News release - FEMA

SEATTLE – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urges residents and business owners to take extra precautions when returning after wildfire-caused evacuations. Dennis Hunsinger, FEMA Acting Regional Administrator for Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington warns that unseen dangers may linger long after the flames die down.

“Fires can leave behind nasty surprises ranging from gas leaks and weakened foundations to exposed wires and power lines,” said Hunsinger. “Check for external damage and exercise caution when entering fire-damaged structures. Play it safe. When in doubt, ask for help or seek advice from an expert.”

Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:
Evaluate all utilities on the property for fire damage. Also check power lines coming into the house. Call your gas company to evaluate service. Contact your utility company immediately if you find downed power lines or smell gas.

Check the foundation for cracks or other damage. Check porches and overhangs to be sure they are adequately supported. If the foundation has been undermined, it may not be safe to enter the building. If you find obvious damage, ask that a building inspector check the building first.

If the door sticks at the top as it opens, it could mean the ceiling is ready to cave in. If you decide to force the door open, stand outside the doorway as you do so to avoid being hit by falling debris. As you enter, look before you step. Floors and stairs may be slippery or covered with debris. Watch for broken glass, nails and other hazards. Check the roof and attic immediately for hidden burning sparks and watch for flare-ups for several hours after the fire.

Be alert for gas leaks inside the house that might not be obvious from outside. Do not strike a match or use an open flame unless you know the gas has been turned off and the area has been well ventilated. Instead, use a flashlight to check for damage.

Turn off the electricity. Even if the power company has turned off electricity to the area, be sure to turn off your circuit breakers. Do not use appliances or motors that have been damaged until they have been repaired or replaced. If you use generators due to the loss of power, make sure they are used outside. All cooking on camp stoves and grills should be done outside. Gas and charcoal fumes can be deadly.

Watch for animals. Small animals that have been burned out of their homes may seek shelter in yours. Scare them away by poking a stick into likely hiding places, taking particular care to listen for the warning sound of a rattlesnake.

Don’t breathe the ash from the fires. Ash can irritate your respiratory system. Use painter masks to protect your airway. Water down the area around your home to reduce flying ash. Keep all windows closed to prevent odors from the burning area from entering your home.

Be careful when removing burned items from the home. Handle all burned plastics with gloves as possible toxins can come off the plastic.

Don’t allow children to play in burned areas. Trees may be weak and could fall unexpectedly and holes in the ground may be covered with ash and not visible.

To reduce your future risk of wildfire damage to your home, consider these tips:
Keep leaves and pine needles from roofs, gutters and downspouts and regularly prune low tree branches and mow dried grass;

Remove excess trees, dead trees and shrubs near the house (use a skilled contractor to remove large trees) and consider landscaping alternatives that don’t include shrubs planted close to the house, such as a rock garden;

Check with local building officials to verify building codes and recommendations;
Determine the potential for flooding and the need for erosion control;

Consider mitigation measures, such as using fire resistant roof materials, including asphalt shingles or metal roofs, tempered glass, and installing spark arresters in chimneys and fire resistant materials on the undersides of decks.

For more information on actions to take to reduce future risk of wildfire damage to your home, go to, or