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Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak Fire in Washington County caused by campfire on private property

Investigators have now determined the cause of the wildfire that impacted an estimated 875 acres and led to evacuations of hundreds of residents.
Credit: Dan DeHaven
Credit: Dan DeHaven

HILLSBORO, Oregon — The Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak Fire is 100% contained, and investigators have now determined the cause of the wildfire that impacted an estimated 875 acres and led to evacuations of hundreds of residents.

Fire investigators with Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue (TVF&R) said the fire was caused by an improperly extinguished campfire on private property, near the 20000 block of Neugebauer Road in unincorporated Washington County.

The fire spread quickly because of dry fuels, low humidity, high winds and steep and rugged terrain. In some cases, fire jumped over areas leaving unburned timber and dry fuels.

As of Tuesday, the fire is considered contained, but TVF&R said residents still need to remain vigilant. It is still possible for hot embers and unseen fires burning underground to become a problem if wind picks up or if the embers come into contact with dry fuel.

"We will need for people to keep their eye on things and to call 911 if they see a fire, because while we're going to continue patrolling the area, we don't want there to be complacency," said Chief Cassandra Ulven, TVF&R Public Information Officer. "And that's why the level 2 evacuation remains in place, because conditions might change, so we just want them to be prepared in case that happens."

As of Tuesday, all residents have been allowed to return and firefighters were able to protect all homes. An audit is being done in the area to verify the number of outbuildings impacted by fire.

Firefighters will remain in the area to mop up hot spots and monitor for flare ups. Residents may notice smoldering stumps for weeks or months.

TVF&R is encouraging residents to:

  • Check ground for hot spots on their property.
  • Create a defensible space around your home and outbuildings. See tips at https://www.tvfr.com/192/Wildfire
  • Wet down areas adjacent structures and landscape.
  • Maintain access for firefighters working in the area.
  • Contact 911 if any active fire is burning or any danger is perceived.

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