BRUSH FIRE — Yakima County Fire District 5 stations and more than 25 firefighters respond to the five alarm blaze at 331 Nelson Rd. on Wednesday, March 12.

GRANGER — Neva Robillard had her next-door neighbor’s two boys over, safeguarding them from a fast moving brush fire while also keeping a watchful eye on her son, Deputy Chief Ken Robillard and the more than 25 firefighters from Yakima County Fire District 5 stations as they battled to protect the more than 100-year old residence at 331 Nelson Rd. on Wednesday.

According to Capt. Bryan Bauer, YCFD5 were dispatched to the scene at 2:26 p.m. The initial report indicated there were numerous cars on fire and threatening the house.

A fire department volunteer was working in the area and called in to notify a large shop structure was beginning to burn. Officials were also advised that there were two teenage boys in the house.

The first command officer arrived 12 minutes later and found vehicles and a shop fully engulfed in flames, Bauer reported. He said the fire posed an extreme threat to the home and the attack crews’ primary effort was focused on stopping the spread of the fire to the south and into the house, ensuring the safety of the kids.

Firefighters donned Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) equipment and teamed up to handle several high capacity water lines as they spent more than an hour knocking down and dousing out the smoldering fire.

Students on school buses could be seen looking out the windows at the rolling plumes of black smoke during their ride home along Yakima Valley Highway.

Robillard conveyed how the volatile fire worried her but was anxiously hopeful responders would be able to extinguish the fire before causing any further damage. A mother’s intuition – she knew her son would be part of the emergency response and that they would arrive in time.

“I was hoping the fire wouldn’t get their house. I wasn’t worried about me,” Robillard explained after assisting the YCFD Support 1 truck and personnel setting up in her pasture.

She said it’s ‘special’ to have her son being a firefighter in their hometown and with motherhood reverence stated, “I’m very proud of him, along with all my children.”

Crews were able to gain full control at 3:46 p.m. and began mop up and overhaul operations as they remained on scene until 6:13 p.m. The scene was turned over to the Yakima County Sheriff’s office and the County Fire Marshal.

The fire report estimated that the blaze caused about $250,000 in damages.

Patrick Shelby can be contacted at 509-837-4500, ext. 110 or email

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