At 8:21 pm on May 25, 2018, Hillsboro Fire Department responded to a waste landfill and recycling center near the 3200 Block of SE Minter Bridge Rd for the report of a fire in a wood chip pile. First arriving crews confirmed a very large pile of wood chips was burning and beginning to spread to a pile of scrap wood, and requested a full first alarm response.
Due to unlimited fuel supply and a persistent wind, the nearby scrap wood pile quickly became engulfed. The initial wood chip pile was nearly 200 feet long and up to 40 feet high. The secondary scrap wood pile is just as large but contains clean wood that has been salvaged and disposed of from construction sites. This property also contains a landfill, which was unaffected by the fire and not at risk at any point.
Due to the volatile nature of the wood pile and the danger associated with it, firefighters took a strategic stance to surround the pile. This facility did have a remote water source available on scene, but the volume of water necessary exceeded the capacity of the pump, forcing firefighters to utilize over 1500 feet of hose from a fire hydrant along with shuttling water. Ultimately the fuel load of the scrap wood forced firefighters to take a defensive stance and focus on containment to the scrap pile.
This fire posed several challenges to firefighters, forcing a second alarm to be called.. First, the significant load of wood provided an endless supply of fuel for the fire. Secondly, the location just south of Hillsboro meant fire hydrants were not readily available, so water had to be shuttled into the facility. Third, the wind was blowing embers away from the fire and into grassy areas nearby. A fire engine monitored the area downwind of the fire through the evening to ensure no spot fires were igniting.
No injuries were reported and no structures sustained any damage. One front loader was burned, with possible damage to a second. A cause has not yet been determined. No homes were evacuated due to the smoke, but nearby residents who may be downwind should consider keeping their windows closed until smoke has dissipated.