It's been more than two days since the brush and railroad trestle fire started in Sherwood. Remaining debris is no longer burning, though it may continue to emit light smoke. There is no fire risk.
It's unclear when cleanup operations will begin by Portland and Western Railroad. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Sherwood residents with concerns about smoke or air quality can call Washington County's Environmental Health team at 503-846-8722.
Sherwood Police Department and Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue are jointly investigating the fire that started yesterday afternoon and destroyed a train trestle and burned approximately eight acres of brush near Tualatin-Sherwood Road and Langer Parkway.
A TVF&R fire investigator and a Sherwood detective have examined material evidence at the fire scene and will continue to conduct witness interviews to try and determine how the fire started. It may take several days for the investigation to conclude.
At this hour, approximately 16 firefighters remain on scene at three different positions around the fire area to keep an eye out and extinguish any hot spots.
About 80 percent of the Portland & Western Railroad trestle has collapsed, and the remaining structure is smoldering. It is unlikely that the remaining structure will collapse on its own. It will likely need to be deconstructed at a later time when it is safe for work crews to perform the task.
People in the area will likely continue to see smoke for several days. Firefighters will remain on scene until they are confident there are no hot spots or potential risks of fire.
Residents in the area are encouraged to keep their windows and doors closed. They are also discouraged from exercising outdoors in the area due to poor air quality.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, and a TVF&R fire investigator is evaluating material evidence on scene and conducting witness interviews. A recently acquired image taken before fire personnel arrived on scene shows the fire likely started in the grass below the trestle and quickly spread to the railroad structure.
Additional details about the cause of this fire will be released to the community as they become available.
One TVF&R firefighter was injured as a result of this fire. This firefighter was injured at about 6 a.m. while working on a berm near the rail line when debris shifted and trapped one of his legs. Other firefighters used chain saws to cut away debris and free his leg. He was able to walk out with assistance from his fellow firefighters. He was treated and transported to Legacy Meridian Park Hospital, where x-rays revealed that no bones were broken. The firefighter is now home resting comfortably with his wife.
There is a bulldozer and excavator on scene creating firebreaks in the event any remaining grass or brush ignites to keep the fire from spreading. Aside from the train trestle, no nearby structures were damaged as a result of the fire.
Portland & Western Railroad, which operates the line, will release an approximate damage estimate when it is available. It is undetermined on whether or not the trestle will be rebuilt.
Overnight, there were two partial collapses of the 85-year-old Portland & Western Railroad trestle. At this time, one-third of the 600-foot-long trestle remains standing. The remaining portion is severely compromised and may collapse at any time as it continues to burn.
A dozen firefighters are positioned to monitor the trestle for collapse and, as that occurs, ensure that the collapsed fuel load does not ignite a fire in the surrounding brush. The primary goal of firefighting operations at this time is to protect the neighborhood to the south of the burning trestle and the businesses to the north, as well as minimize any environmental impact.
The trestle is expected to burn throughout the day. Incident commanders ask that people avoid coming to the scene for observation while firefighting operations are underway for the safety of everyone. Citizens in the vicinity are encouraged to stay indoors and keep their doors and windows shut. If respiratory problems develop, please seek medical attention.
At 4:21 p.m. Monday, multiple callers to 911 reported a burning train trestle near Tualatin-Sherwood Road and Langer Parkway in Sherwood. First-arriving fire crews observed the rapidly burning Portland and Western Railroad trestle, which spans 600 feet and sits 50 feet over wetlands and a stream.
Due to rapid fire spread, fire commanders decided to let the trestle burn and prioritized crews' efforts to fighting the brush fire that had ignited below. Firefighters contended with access difficulties and overhead power lines.
A large column of black smoke was visible for several miles as the trestle burned.
Within 30 minutes, structural support members of the 50-foot-high trestle began collapsing, so firefighters retreated to outer edges of the area to avoid falling debris. Several divisions were established to protect nearby businesses and rail cars, and nearby roads were closed, including Southwest Tualatin-Sherwood Road and Southwest Century Drive.
A second alarm was called at 5:24 p.m. to bring additional engines, four-wheel-drive brush vehicles and firefighters to the scene. Businesses east of the trestle were also evacuated as a precaution.
Firefighters wet down edges of the wetland perimeter and systematically worked to fight the fire to keep it from spreading to nearby homes and businesses, including Northstar Chemical and Allied Systems.
As of 9:30 p.m., the southeast flank of the fire is out, but several acres of brush and grass continue to burn. It's expected the unstable and collapsing trestle could burn for several days.
Police officers and fire personnel are using a community notification phone system and knocking on doors to notify residents and businesses within a 2.5-square-mile area about smoky conditions. More than 7,000 residences were notified by phone call, text message, or e-mail. No additional evacuations are taking place, and residents are advised to keep windows and doors closed as the area is smoke-filled at times.
Now is an excellent time for all residents interested in receiving notifications during emergencies to sign up at www.publicalerts.org.
Fire commanders remain focused on fire suppression, limiting environmental impacts, and rotating firefighters to prevent injuries. As of 9:30 p.m., 300,000 gallons of water have been used during firefighting operations. TVF&R is being assisted by Sherwood Police and City of Sherwood staff. The cause of the fire is unknown and remains under investigation.
As of 11:12 p.m., the brush fire surrounding the trestle was 100 percent contained. Firefighters are continuing a defensive fire attack on the trestle fire. Incident commanders will replace crews overnight and ramp up offensive efforts in the morning.
Residents and businesses in the Sherwood area are asked to keep their doors and windows closed as the area continues to be smoke-filled at times. Additionally, reduce your amount of time spent outside for the next few days and drink plenty of water.
Southwest Tualatin-Sherwood Road is open as of 11:12 p.m. and is expected to be open for the morning commute. Citizens are asked to stay away from the area for their safety and that of firefighters.
Additional updates will follow.