Fire Chief Larry Hector’s best guess is that flaming mice on the run rekindled a fire at Frog Hollow in the Walla Walla Valley, Washington, that had began earlier on Saturday. “Mice come out of the fire, on fire, and run into the unburned stuff. And start the fire all over again,” Hector explained.
Hector heads Walla Walla County Fire District 6 out of Touchet and was incident commander for three separate fires that scorched about 300 acres of mostly alfalfa stubble in the Touchet area. The original fire was started by a combine, the second started under a power line and the third was caused when a hawk struck a different power line and brought it down, he said.
A fourth burn was a restart of the original Frog Hollow Road blaze, he said, and that came under control at about 5pm.
The situation forced the evacuation of one family in Frog Hollow Road for a few hours, and other residents left nearby homes as a precaution, said Liz Jessee, director of Walla Walla County Emergency Management.
Fighting flames exacerbated by high winds was a collaborative effort that brought about two dozen firefighters from five fire stations, Hector said.
The main fire began just before noon, closing several roads in the area.
The fires were contained by 4pm, with the rekindled blaze coming under control by about 5pm, she noted. Residents of the community were allowed to return home at 3:30pm.