Silliman's Papers

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Friday, July 12, 2002

Grass fire threatens Sequim homes

Mower starts fire trying to reduce fire hazard

By Daniel Silliman
Peninsula Daily News

An attempt to reduce a fire hazard ended in fire Wednesday afternoon after a mower blade struck a rock while cutting long, dry grass in a field on Old Olympic Highway.

The spark caught and, with a little wind, a grass fire burnt more than one acre of grass and threatened two homes.

"It's dry," Assistant Fire Chief Roger Moeder said.

"And with this little wind it just took off."

Hosing down his fence, watering the last remains of the fire that threatened his 9391 Old Olympic Highway home, burning holes in his fence and melting the trim on his home, Kit Swanberg said he didn't see the fire start but it had taken off.

"Everything is so dry," he said. "It just went. Bang."

More than 15 District 3 firefighters responded to the fire, pulling yellow hoses from four fire trucks into the burning field and spraying the field, fences and the dampening the houses.

The fire was put out within 20 minutes.

The fire consumed most of the field, owned by Jim Shea, who lives next door at 9321 Old Olympic Highway and has been trying to sell the empty field.

While firefighters pulled yellow hoses into the field a "For Sale by Owner" sign burned next to the street.

Shea hired a Sequim man to mow the field because the long dry grass had become a fire hazard. While mowing the tractor ran over a rock and the blade sparked, starting the fire, Moeder said.

The man attempted to put out the first flames with his hat but found he was fanning the fire, not putting it out, witnesses said.

The fire burnt fences on three sides of the field, burning to the edge of the homes and the street before being extinguished. Stretching to the road, neighbors gathered to watch the fire and the gray billowing smoke.

\Sequim Police temporarily closed the block to traffic.

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

Sequim grass fire put out before it reachs homes, business
Cause undetermined, but could have been started by a fire cracker

By Daniel Silliman
Peninsula Daily News

Firefighters extinguished a half-acre fire, Tuesday in a field of grass and blackberry bushes bordered by seven homes on Hammond Street and by Ferrellgas Inc. on Third Street.

The fire was quickly put out, with the flames extinguished 10 minuets after firefighters responded, and none of the buildings were in danger.

The cause of the fire is undetermined, said Roger Moeder, assistant fire chief.

Firefighters found a large spent fire cracker in the field but no one reporter hearing an explosion and it cannot positively be connected to the fire.

"Nobody heard anything," Moeder said. "So we listed the cause as undetermined."

The fire cracker could have been discarded in the field for a long time, like the bicycle pieces, railroad ties and car parts now exposed in the burnt over grass.

The firefighters spent another 45 minutes working over the burnt C-shaped area and the blackberry bushes, putting out hot spots and making sure the fire wouldn't start again.


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