A brush with fire

A brush fire near Goldie Road came dangerously close to burning out of control, but the quick action of witnesses and firefighters had the blaze under control and extinguished within about 30 minutes Tuesday afternoon.

Firefighters from three north Whidbey Island agencies responded to the call from a business named CAI at about 2 p.m. A brush fire had ignited in an area of undeveloped land, and quickly jumped a trail and spread to a pasture, burning between two and three acres before firefighters put it out, said Mark Soptich, Oak Harbor Fire Department chief.

Witnesses said they heard crackling and noticed the brush fire directly behind a paint and autobody shop in the industrial park. A trio of young men, all of whom work for telemarketing firm CAI, discovered the fire.

After seeing the flames, the men ran into the CAI office and asked a supervisor to call 911.

“We ran back out and we started to stomp out the fire,” said Nathan Seaver, who went into the burning brush with co-workers Josh Tousignant and Matt Millenback.

The three stepped aside when firefighters arrived but stayed on the sidelines. By the time they returned from the field they were drenched head to toe from firefighters’ hoses.

Dalton Haak, a CAI supervisor, said he made the call to 911 and then went out into the parking lot to keep an eye on the fire.

“When I first saw it, it was just on the hills right there,” Haak said. “It was burning really strong because it was like six-foot weeds.”

Oak Harbor Fire Department, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Fire Department and Island County Fire District 2 responded to the scene with multple trucks and about 24 firefighters.

Once the blaze was put out, firefighters were able to rotate quick rest breaks while they continued to shoot water on the charred areas, making sure the fire was completely out.

“It’s a slow process that wears people out real fast,” Soptich said of the firefighters battling the blaze in full gear. “They do a good job. I’m proud of them.”

An investigation into the cause of the blaze is underway and may be completed as early as today, Soptich said.

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