Community helps as firefighters battle flames in Port Orchard, Olalla

It was all hands on deck Aug. 14 for South Kitsap Fire and Rescue as crews battled two major brush blazes that threatened residential areas.

The bigger one was a three-alarm fire that started just after 2 p.m. off Youwood Way in the southwest corner of Port Orchard in windy and extremely hot and dry conditions. Thick tree coverage presented even more of a safety hazard, but some residents like Linda Perrish didn’t even know it was going on. “There’s enough trees and hills in the way that I just really had no idea. I had to hear about it from the Neighborhood Watch,” she said.

SKFR received mutual aid from fire departments from Bremerton, Central Kitsap and Gig Harbor. Poulsbo and CK also sent units for other 911 activities in the district. Aid also came in the form of residents who provided cold beverages in the heat of the day to first responders and the use of their properties for shade among other things. Crews worked for hours on the ground and in the air to battle the blaze, bringing it under control and patrolling the grounds afterward for hotspots.

Yet as one fire died out, another community in Olalla was threatened shortly after. Firefighters traveled to Olalla Valley Road SE and Price Road SE, close to the head of the bay, to battle another wild blaze.

“It was pretty scary,” Devenn Miller said. “I know that, when it first started, folks were out there with garden hoses just waiting for the fire trucks to come.”

Firefighters extinguished the second fire as well, the incident being cleared shortly after midnight. Residents like Ilona Krantz are pleased that nearby houses were unscathed.

“They were excellent,” she said about the first responders’ response. “They got here so fast and were right on it.”

Fire departments in Kitsap County were already on high alert given dry conditions forecasted to last throughout the week.

Fire chief Jeff Faucett is echoing calls of caution to South Kitsap residents. “We are asking people to be extra careful while outside. Simple things like a spark from a lawnmower, a cigarette butt or heat from motors can cause a small fire.”

Faucett expressed gratitude to the community for its support. “The work of our entire county was amazing,” he said.