A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Deputies investigate straw fire on Riverside

Written October 10th, 2023 by Hasso Hering

The Albany Fire Department provided this photo of the Monday straw fire on Riverside Drive.

When I read online about the fire of the big stack of straw southwest of Albany Monday, I wondered what could have caused it. So far the cause is undetermined, and Linn County detectives are trying to find what it was.

I was out of town when the fire broke out and didn’t get to the scene, which might not have been inadvisable anyway because of the smoke.

The fire was still burning Tuesday morning, according to people on Facebook. And on Tuesday afternoon Linn County Sheriff Michelle Duncan issued a press release about it.

The sheriff’s office said Linn County dispatch received a report at 2:15 a.m. Monday “of a large haystack on fire” in the 36000 block of Riverside Drive. ( I’m pretty sure this wasn’t hay but bales of straw picked up from mid-valley grass seed fields.)

Here’s what the sheriff’s office said about the likely cause: “Albany Fire Department, Linn County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police and Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office consider the fire suspicious. Deputies will continue to investigate as leads develop and more information becomes available.”

The sheriff encouraged anyone with information about the fire to contact Detective Matt Wilcox with the Linn County Sheriff’s Office at (541) 967-3950.

The Albany Fire Department responded to the alarm with several units.

“Due to the size of the fire, AFD took a fire observation stance to prevent the fire from spreading to structures and the field,” Deputy Fire Marshal Sandy Roberts told me. “Our on-scene battalion chief estimated the hay pile to be approximately 100 feet by 500 feet.”

The battalion chief took the photo above, and Roberts included it in an email to me.

I wrote about that towering pile of straw after seeing it on a bike ride in August, before it was covered with tarps for the rainy season.

As I reported then, the bales belonged to Gilmour Pacific Trading LLC, based a short distance away on Walnut Drive. The company exports straw around the world.

This must be a huge loss to the company. I called to find out how huge and left a message. I’ll add that detail if I find out. (hh)

The stack of baled straw the way it looked on Aug. 25, 2023.

2 responses to “Deputies investigate straw fire on Riverside”

  1. david pulver says:

    years ago it was very common for stacks of straw to be set afire in the sublimity-scio areas. in the middle of the night. from what i recall, it was connected with high schools opening back up.

  2. hj.anony1 says:

    Must have been your bike Hasso?

    This does help explain the gross smokey haze, mixed with rain today. WIND rain and then smokey haze again. Finally cleared out.



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