Fire, Gales Creek, Highway 6

Gales Creek home destroyed in fire

The home on Lyda Drive in flames. Photo: Forest Grove Fire & Rescue

GALES CREEK – A home on Lyda Drive was destroyed in a fire the afternoon of Friday, October 25, according to Forest Grove Fire & Rescue.

The occupant of the home and a dog safely evacuated the home, but a cat is still unaccounted for. No one else was injured during the fire.

The home was located on the western arm of Lyda Drive where it meets the Wilson River Highway — also known as Highway 6 — at mile post 41 near the old Bateman Store.

According to a press release from Forest Grove Fire & Rescue, crews were first dispatched to the scene at 3:36 p.m. to reports of a residential fire. Arriving 12 minutes later, crews found a double wide manufactured home already well involved in flames. 

Power lines that stretched across the driveway that entered Lyda Drive were close to falling, according to FGF&R, forcing fire crews to park on Highway 6, prompting a full highway closure that lasted about an hour, snarling weekend traffic to Tillamook and the Oregon Coast. 

Oregon Department of Transportation staff were able to open the highway to one lane of travel with flaggers directing vehicles, easing traffic for another two hours before the highway was fully reopened. 

Access to water proved a challenge for firefighters in rural Gales Creek, which does not have fire hydrants in the area. Crews hailing from Forest Grove Fire & Rescue, Banks Fire District 13, and Cornelius Fire Department utilized a technique known as a water shuttle to bring water to the scene, starting with full water tenders that flow their water to a pumping engine, then turn around and head back to the city to refill. 

A dog safely evacuated the house along with its owners – but a household cat is still missing. Photo: Forest Grove Fire & Rescue

It took firefighters about 25 minutes after arriving on the scene to knock the majority of the flames down as crews fought initially difficult flames fed by moderate winds bringing oxygen to the fire. 

Fire crews and ODOT were assisted by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police, and the Red Cross, who are assisting the residents. 

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. 

Multiple area residents — including one neighbor of the burned home — reported a power outage starting around 2:40 p.m. in Gales Creek.

About 25 minutes after his power went out, the resident of the burned home smelled smoke, according to Forest Grove Fire & Rescue public information officer Matt Johnston.

It’s unclear if the fire and the power outage are linked.

Portland General Electric spokesperson Andrea Platt said that at least 132 residents were affected, with more than half calling in to the utility company to report the outage.

Platt said that the outage was caused by an equipment failure, the cause of which was being investigated.

Chas Hundley is the editor of the Gales Creek Journal and sister news publications the Banks Post and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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