Grand Ronde storage unit fire ‘just spread and spread’


People should avoid the area of Hwy 18 and Hwy 22

GRAND RONDE, Ore. (KOIN) — Multiple fires erupted in a 2-mile stretch of Highway 18 in the Grand Ronde area on Wednesday afternoon.

Smoke billowed from multiple storage units on the property of Jim’s Trading Post.

Kathy Rommel was working at the store when someone driving by stopped to tell her about the fire.

“It was kind of scary, I was frightened,” Rommel told KOIN 6 News. “Grabbed buckets, started throwing water and using the hose but it was going faster than what we could contain. It just spread and spread.”

The storage units that caught fire contained paint, tires and tools worth an estimated $10,000.

The charred rubble from a storage unit fire in Grand Ronde, July 31, 2019. (KOIN)

For Lillian Housley who lives on the property, the fire evokes many emotions.

“Now that the aftershock is hitting us, it’s kind of the reality of how close we did come to danger,” Housley said.

Flames rekindled from a hotspot at Jim’s Trading late Wednesday night. Firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze.

The Oregon State Fire Marshal is investigating the cause.

“What we think, what we have heard from the fire department — is somebody intentionally threw something outside the window and then it spread,” Rommel said.

Other fires broke out further up Highway 18 about 2 miles west of Spirit Mountain Casino, charring brush and forcing local fire departments to temporarily shut down the road about a mile west of Valley Junction in Polk County.

The Oregon Department of Forestry said 5 spot fires on Hwy 18 were extinguished by 4:20 p.m.

Multiple brush fires burned along Highway 18 in the Grand Ronde area, July 31, 2019. (Courtesy of Jayden Anderson)

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