Compost possible cause of tree row fire
By Annette Tait
The unexpected knocking on Bill and Bernice Etherington’s door Sept. 3 wasn’t a chance visit from a friend or neighbor, stopping by to chat. Instead, it was the kind of interruption that – while appreciated – no one wants to hear.
Erin Huntimer was driving home from work and noticed smoke rising in the air as she passed the Etherington’s property, where N.D. 25 curves west toward Center.
“I know the Etheringtons -- they burn their garbage, so it’s not unusual to see smoke at their place,” Huntimer said. “But I got closer and saw that the smoke was coming from their tree row.”
When Huntimer stopped and turned around, she could see flames.
“I pounded on the door,” she said, “I didn’t think anyone was home.”
From where they were sitting in their living room, the Etheringtons couldn’t see that anything was amiss outside. They were completely unaware of the fire.
By chance, Oliver Fire Protection District Volunteer Firefighter Bryan Bradley happened to drive by just after Huntimer called 911 to report the fire. Seeing the flames, he stopped to help.
“Bryan was able to knock it down and wet the ground between the tree row and the garage,” Huntimer said. “But a couple of the cedars caught on fire and flared up. You didn’t want to be anywhere near that -- it was quick.”