Monroe woodlands brush fire was likely accidental
Photo courtesy David Demarest
A prominent smoke column billowed early in the fire.
MONROE — A rush of firefighters tackled a three-alarm brush fire in the hills behind Walmart and along Chain Lake Road Monday, Sept. 19 as a smoke column could be seen billowing from most of north Monroe.
Crews jumped on it at about 3 p.m. and got it all doused by about 8 p.m.
It burned two acres, according to the lead fire investigator. Initial reports estimated the burned area at seven acres.
The fire happened on state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) land, putting the investigation under their agency.
While the fire's cause will be recorded as inconclusive, the fire investigator thinks it was likely accidental, said a DNR spokesman about wildfires, Thomas Kyle-Milward. The investigator who walked the site found there is an "inability to pinpoint an exact location where it started and/or its origin due to the fire's intensity and suppression efforts" that disturbed the scene, the spokesman said.
Onlookers watching the fire spoke of how people illegally camp in the treed hills.
Soon after the fire started, Monroe Police went in and encountered several people with tents and instructed them to leave. Police spokesman Cmdr. Paul Ryan said some people heeded the request and some didn’t.
The Police Department’s outreach team went up the following day and encountered just one person. Ryan said this woman was arrested for trespassing as she’d been arrested multiple times before against setting camp on state land.
Ryan said the hills are a “regular part of the patrol areas” for the outreach team of a social worker paired with a police officer.
Police trespassed multiple people Sept. 13 from a nearby property along Chain Lake Road, but that was not these hills, Ryan said.
As firefighters arrived Monday, Porter Johnson and his friends were watching by the Walmart parking lot. Johnson said a different fire happened there a week ago.
Fire personnel from multiple agencies came. Nobody working the huge Bolt Creek Fire in Index was diverted over, Snohomish Regional Fire & Rescue spokesman Peter Mongillo said.
Firefighters flanked the fire from two spots: From the end of Galaxy Way and off of Old Trombley Road.
Old Trombley is typically gated off, witness David Demarest said.
The large billows of smoke subsided within 30 minutes as firefighters attacked the incident.
Mongillo dispelled any rumor that embers from the wildfire in Index got carried in the wind and started this one.
The region has been under a total burn ban, including recreational fires, since last week. Fire officials at Snohomish Regional Fire & Rescue, headquartered in Monroe, issued the full burn ban in its jurisdiction due to the current high fire danger.
Snohomish Regional Fire set up a short-lived evacuation warning to people living near the site to be prepared to leave; county emergency management sent the cell phone alert out to residents there, Mongillo said.
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