STARBUCK — A stack of about 1,000 large bales of straw were ablaze Thursday afternoon near Lyons Ferry Road and Barker Road, northwest of Starbuck.

Columbia County Fire District 3 Chief Jeromy Phinney said his department responded to the fire at about 11 a.m., about four miles from the Lyons Ferry Marina, when the fire had spread to about 15 acres of grassland. He also said the bales were owned by Columbia Straw Supply, which had thousands of other bales within the vicinity.

Columbia County Fire districts 1 and 2, Walla Walla Fire districts 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, and 8, City of Walla Walla and College Place fire departments, and Columbia and Walla Walla county sheriff’s offices, also were called, since the fire at one point was deemed “third alarm.”

Walla Walla County Emergency Management’s social media page at about noon indicated people should avoid the area.

“This is a complex incident with lots of apparatus on the scene,” it stated.

However, CCFD2 Acting Assistant Fire Chief Colter Mohney said he and his coworker left the scene at about 3:30 p.m., since the fire was contained to the single stack. Other departments also were dispersing.  

Phinney said he didn’t know how many firefighters or apparatuses remained on scene or were initially called.

“We’re just trying to figure out how to deal with the 1,000 bales on fire,” he said. “There is no plan to get it out right now, but we’re working on one.”

Mohney said the bale pile likely would “burn a long time.”

Phinney said no one was reported injured and no structures were threatened. He also said there was enough help on scene they weren’t too worried about the fire spreading to other bales.

Neither said they knew what caused the blaze.   

Emily Thornton can be reached at or 509-526-8325.

Emily Thornton covers courts and emergency services, as well as other various stories. She has been in the newspaper industry off and on since roughly 1999 and lived primarily on the West Coast, but also Florida and Europe.

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