Teen driving tractor NW of Salem: “I looked over and saw flames” - KPTV - FOX 12

Teen driving tractor NW of Salem: “I looked over and saw flames”

Posted: Updated: Jul 30, 2015 12:29 AM
A photo of the field fire moments after it started, courtesy of a neighbor. A photo of the field fire moments after it started, courtesy of a neighbor.
Another photo taken by a neighbor. Another photo taken by a neighbor.
The plume seen from Keizer, courtesy of Kelsey Watts. The plume seen from Keizer, courtesy of Kelsey Watts.
Fire crews estimate it burned 30-40 acres in a hay field. Fire crews estimate it burned 30-40 acres in a hay field.
SALEM, OR (KPTV) -

A teenager driving a tractor found herself in the middle of a fast-moving field fire northwest of Salem Wednesday afternoon, and while the fire sent a huge plume of smoke into the air for several minutes, it was contained to roughly 30 to 40 acres.

The fire broke out around 4:30 p.m. in a hay field off Brush College Road NW near Briarwood Street NW.

“I was driving the tractor and it just stopped, and I looked over and saw flames,” Abbi Nash, 16, told Fox 12. 

Nash had been using a hay tedder to aerate the hay before the raking process, and believes the fire started in or near the engine of the tractor.  When she saw it, she jumped out of the tractor and started running.

“I couldn’t breathe after, it was scary,” Nash added.

Her friend and fellow field worker, Makayla Cope, 19, agreed.

“I got here and saw the entire field just going up,” Cope said.  “It was just insane, like little tiny flames, you know, but they were just going everywhere.”

The flames were fueled not only by the very dry conditions, but also the wind, according to firefighters on the scene.

The fire burnt right up to Brush College Road NW and crews worried it might jump the road and head for homes on the other side.

Neighbor Ashley Norrenderns was babysitting when it broke out; the little boy she was taking care of saw the fire before she did.  She came outside and helped other neighbors as much as she could.

“I was riding the four-wheeler back and forth and taking people and hoses,” Norrenderns said.  “There was a lot of community out helping and spraying down their own yards and spraying down each other’s yards just to prepare for their yards to catch fire so their houses didn’t.”

Luckily, fire crews prevented the fire from jumping the road, but it still scorched between 30 and 40 acres, according to a fire chief on scene.

It’s another reminder of the tinder-box conditions facing much of the state this summer.

“If it jumped the road it would have been bad,” Norrenderns added.  “Because all the grass [by these homes] is as dry as that grass [in the field] was, and they had just cut it and they hadn’t gotten to baling it yet, so it was just all fuel.”

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