Multiple departments confront brushfire near Artic

It’s the most significant wildland fire this year so far in Grays Harbor

An afternoon report of a brushfire about three miles off of U.S. Highway 101 turned into a substantial operation Sunday as multiple departments from Grays Harbor and Pacific counties tackled the fire.

The initial call came in at 3:52 p.m., said Hoquiam Fire Chief Matt Miller, who also serves as the county’s wildland fire coordinator.

“It was a 4 to 6 acre fire. A previous clear cut, a few years old,” Miller said. “The clear cut had various smokey stumps on fire. It was smokey and smoldering. There was some active flames down inside the trees.”

Grays Harbor Fire District 15 got the initial call for the fire, Miller said, calling on the Cosmopolis Fire Department and Grays Harbor Fire District 2 for assistance.

“(Cosmopolis Fire Chief Nick Falley) got out there and sized out the situation. He needed some brush trucks,” Miller said. “They had lots of water but they needed more people.”

The county was seeing a number of major calls at the time, Miller said.

“Hoquiam was on two calls. Aberdeen was on an aid call. There was the wreck,” Miller said. “Multiple agencies across the county were on multiple calls, essentially.”

More assistance came in from departments in Montesano, Hoquiam, Pacific County Fire District 3, South Bend and the Washington Department of Natural Resources, Miller said. Weyerhaeuser also had personnel and a tender on site, Miller said.

“They got down in the treeline and stopped it from extending,” Miller said. “It wasn’t a raging fire by any means but it was odd to have it out in the middle of nowhere in a clear cut.”

Most of the departments cleared the scene a few hours later while DNR took over the scene and began the investigation into the cause. South Beach Regional Fire Authority assisted with mop-up operations on Monday, Miller said.

“DNR requested an investigator come out,” Miller said. “It wasn’t too hot but it was definitely dry out there.”

The fire is the most serious brushfire so far for 2024, Miller said.

“This might be the most significant one so far for the middle of May,” Miller said. “There has been around the county the last couple of weeks a couple of small brushfires.”

The fire is an ill portent for the coming summer.

“It’s predicted to be a warmer, drier summer here in Grays Harbor,” Miller said. “It’s dry out there. All of Washington state is already in drought status. The Olympics and the Cascades are well below the snowpack average.”

Residents and visitors should be very careful with fires; careless or negligent visitors were already responsible for a brushfire in the dunes of Pacific Beach State Park last week.

“Be careful of campfires, bonfires,” Miller said. “They can get out of hand fast.”

Contact Senior Reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or