Fire

Fire crews from Columbia and Walla Walla counties were called to a large straw-bale blaze near Lyons Ferry on Thursday. This photo, sent to the Union-Bulletin by the fire chief of Columbia County Fire District 3, shows the bales still burning and smoking after firefighters began to leave the scene.

STARBUCK — A multi-alarm fire burned an estimated 1,000 bales of straw and surrounding grassland Thursday afternoon near Lyons Ferry Road and Barker road, northwest of Starbuck.

“Several thousand tons” of straw owned by Columbia Pulp were lost, although the exact amount was still being determined, said Ben Rankin of Columbia Straw Supply. The straw was to be used by the Columbia Pulp mill under construction near Starbuck.

Firefighters with Columbia County Fire District 3 were called to the blaze at about 11 a.m., said District 3 Chief Jeromy Phinney. The fire was about 4 miles from Lyons Ferry Marina and had spread from the bales to about 15 acres of grassland.

Columbia County Fire District 1, Columbia-Walla Walla County Fire District 2, Walla Walla Fire districts 1, 3, 4, 7, and 8, city of Walla Walla and College Place fire departments, and Columbia and Walla Walla County sheriff’s offices, were also called to assist. According to reports, by about 3:30 p.m. the fire was contained to a single stack.

As of this morning, a single engine was at the site to monitor the scene in case of a flare-up, said Patrick Purcell of Walla Walla County Emergency Management.

Phinney said no one was reported injured and no structures were threatened. The cause of the fire was under investigation today, officials said.

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