LONGVIEW, Wash. — More than 30 firefighters battled a three-alarm brush fire that scorched six acres in Cowlitz County Tuesday.
The fire broke out just after noon near Grandview Terrace, approximately two miles north of Longview.
Gusty winds quickly fanned flames uphill toward homes. Cowlitz County deputies went door to door and evacuated dozens of residents in the fire's path in the Longview Heights neighborhood.
"You could see the flames," Kyle Wharton told KATU's Chris Liedle. "Everything was popping and crackling, and probably about 25 minutes later, the whole fire department came up here, and they said get what you can!"
Wharton told KATU he and his wife grabbed pictures and clothes, everything he could not replace. He pulled cars, trucks and a motorcycle out of his shop.
"I thought, 'We're evacuated, and that the house was gone,'" Wharton said. "Luckily, our kids were in school, so that worked out great. Everything was covered in ash. The fire was right next to us in a flash."
Firefighters stopped the fire from reaching Wharton's home, but his neighbor's home was damaged.
Mike Blake says he came home to his house on fire.
Firefighters were able to save the home, but not before the fire burned the exterior siding, the air ducts, the second-story deck and a hot tub underneath the deck.
Blake told KATU a small barn he and his dad built in the backyard was reduced to rubble.
"I mean there it went," Blake told KATU. "I am not trusting it; I’m going to stay at my other house tonight."
Two cars, including a vintage Porsche, and a trailer were destroyed.
Firefighters on the ground got help from two Washington Department of Natural Resources water-dropping helicopters. Pilots dumped water every couple of minutes for several hours.
Cowlitz County Fire District 2 spokesperson Bryan Ditterick says one firefighter was taken to the hospital for a heat-related illness while battling this fire.
Approximately 40 customers were without power during the blaze.
DNR took over command of the fire Tuesday evening.
"The helicopter is what saved us," Wharton said. "All those great volunteer firefighters, they got up here quick; they did a good job."
The cause of the fire is under investigation.