Firefighters attack West Linn brush fire amid poison oak, steep terrain

Firefighters attack West Linn brush fire amid poison oak, steep terrain »Play Video
A fire crew works to put out a brush fire that started on the Camassia Natural Area next to West Linn High School on Wednesday. In addition to the fire, they battled poison oak and steep terrain. (Photo: Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue)

WEST LINN, Ore. – Crews in wildland firefighting gear moved in fast Wednesday to surround a brush fire that broke out next to West Linn High School.

It took nine different engine companies' combined effort to knock down the fire on the Camassia Natural Area that started shortly before 1 p.m.

Neighbors stopped on a nearby overpass to get a better view of the fire and the crews working on the steep hillside above Interstate 205. The Oregon Department of Transportation had to divert traffic around those crews.

Within the park, it's all golden dry brush and trees that cover the rocky terrain.

Cassandra Ulven with Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue said firefighters had to take extra precautions because of the poison oak throughout the park.

"Not only is that difficult for firefighters from a contact standpoint, getting it on their skin is irritating, but when it burns, it's an inhalation issue,” she said. “You can get severe respiratory distress as a result of the burning poison oak."

Fire crews put their wildland firefighting skills to work and surrounded the fire quickly. They were mopping up less than two hours after the initial 911 call.

According to TVF&R, the fire did go to three alarms briefly but that was only so they could get more resources on it immediately.

No homes were threatened and there was no damage other than to the park itself.

About 2.5 acres were burned.

The cause is unknown but firefighters are still investigating.