PORTLAND -- Powerful winds ripping through the Portland and Vancouver area for a fourth straight day caused a series of fires to spread.
On Saturday afternoon, a witness shot cell phone video showing gusty winds fanning a brush fire quickly sending it to two alarms and dangerously close to homes before crews got it under control.
“Look there are people watering. Oh, it's getting up to that fence,” a witness said.
One of those fences belongs to Nathan Long. He was taking a nap when flames started bearing down on his home. Long quickly put his training with the Army National Guard to good use with a garden hose.
“I just cranked it on, got my water over there and got my own little fire hose and yanked it back on full throttle, shot of jet stream and shot at the base of the fire,” Long said.
Long and his neighbors all rushed to the smoky field to attack the fire themselves.
“If it wasn’t for all our neighbors pitching in with our garden hoses at least wetting down the field, it could’ve been worse,” Long said.
Vancouver Fire's Deputy Chief Dan Olson said the fire destroyed a barn and scorched five acres of brush. More dry conditions, low humidity and powerful winds made for a dangerous combination. Olson said the department called in six extra firefighters to prepare for Saturday's conditions.
“We would really want to stress to people to watch what they’re doing and make sure they’re not introducing any type of ignition to the environment today,” Olson said.
Firefighters were busy all day across the metro area.
In Gresham, crews quickly got the upper hand on a burn pile that re-ignited and charred a nearby tree. Fire Captain Cindy Thompson said dry weather conditions and powerful winds kicked up the flames near Lusted Road.
“We’re in two months of no rain and we have a very strong east wind which sets us up for extreme fire danger,” Thompson said.
Near southwest Eastman Parkway, by the Spring Water Trail, fire crews quickly got a brush fire under control.
In Portland, an ODOT camera caught crews attacking a fire near an embankment just south of the Marquam Bridge near the I-405 exit. Firefighters say a construction crew working with a cutting torch caused the blaze.
Back in Vancouver, Long and his neighbors are grateful and relieved their homes were spared.
“Getting this close, a little too close to comfort for me, a little too close, thank God for my garden hose out,” Long said.
This is the driest August, September and start to October ever in the record since 1871.