Man tries to burn out wasp nest, starts 4-acre blaze near West Linn

Man starts fire near West Linn trying to burn out wasp nest - Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue image

WEST LINN, Ore. – A man started a nearly 4-acre blaze Thursday after the nearby homeowner said he tried to “eradicate” a yellowjacket nest with a mixture of oil and gasoline.

Along with the nearly 100-degree temperatures, Tualatin valley Fire & Rescue crews had to deal with an active yellowjacket nest, officials said.

Crews were called out just before noon when people spotted a column of smoke coming from a field along SW Shaeffer Road in West Linn. It had grown to about 3 acres before firefighters arrived at the scene.

The fire was stopped before it reached some nearby trees.

When talking with the homeowner, he said he mixed oil and gas to burn a wasp nest, and shortly after sparking the mixture the wind spread the flames. He tried to put it out but was unable to contain the fire.

“Because of the nature of our work, we uniquely, understand the incredible speed at which fire can spread, but I believe most people are unaware of the potential destruction fire can cause. When dry vegetation, low humidity, and hot temperatures are added to the mix, we have conditions for extreme fire behavior. This can cause a small spark to become a big problem,” TVF&R Fire Marshal Steve Forster said.

As for why so many people are seeing the wasps this season, Oregon State University Entomologist Gail Langellotto told KATU News the yellow jackets and hornets are moving into backyards and gardens looking for food.

"We are in a drought now where a lot of the potential food resources for the yellow jackets have dried up in the surrounding landscape," Langellotto.

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