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The original item was published from 7/16/2015 10:41:00 AM to 7/20/2017 12:00:01 AM.

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Posted on: July 16, 2015

[ARCHIVED] Improperly Discarded Smoking Materials Cause of Brush Fire, Damaged Vehicles

Millikan 1 small.jpg

Shortly after 8:00 a.m., Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue firefighters were dispatched to multiple reports of a brush fire at 14105 SW Millikan Way in Beaverton. As firefighters responded to the scene, they could see a column of black smoke rising from the location of the fire.

Upon arrival, firefighters found a hedge of arborvitae trees, approximately 15-20 feet long, involved in fire. The fire had spread to nearby vehicles parked in the transit center parking lot. Firefighters from Station 67 quickly worked to extinguish the fire and prevent it from spreading to other vehicles. Three vehicles were impacted by the fire; two are considered a complete loss.

A fire investigator has determined that the most probable cause of the fire was improperly discarded smoking materials that ignited bark dust and extended to the trees and the vehicles.

It is important to know, especially during these extremely dry, warm conditions, that bark dust can mask a creeping fire. Over several hours a tiny smoldering fire can slowly creep into plants, trees, homes, and buildings. As the wood in mulch begins to decompose, it produces heat. When the heat cannot dissipate, fire risk increases, especially when introduced to an open flame such as a cigarette.


* Smokers should properly discard smoking materials in an ashtray or appropriate metal container with a lid.
* When selecting bark mulch for your home or business, consider fire safety and not just how long the mulch will last or how it will look. Do not place bark dust or mulch near siding.
* Avoid placing mulch or bark dust near potential sources of ignition, such as decorative lights or outdoor appliances.
* Spread bark dust or mulch in thin layers so that heat can easily dissipate and keep it moist.
* Consider using an alternative product, such as cocoa shells, decorative rock, or brick chips.

For additional safety tips, visit

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