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Fire Protection for Benton County

CORVALLIS, Ore. — Officials in Benton County are seeking to provide formal fire protection to a rural area south of Corvallis. The area is called Greenberry Gap–27,000 acres of mostly farmland that falls outside the boundary of any rural fire protection district.

For the first time, Benton County is considering annexation of a two-square-mile neighborhood called Northpoint Annex. Dairy farmer Peter Rosenast lives there. He remembers when a fire destroyed his tractor.

“I called [the fire department], and they told me I’m out of the fire district, and when I got back it was way too late,” said Rosenast.

Greenberry Gap hasn’t had fire protection since the ’50s.

“It was all farmland with maybe a dozen homes on it, and farmers are very independent and they just said they don’t see any benefit to joining a fire department,” said Philomath Fire Chief Tom Phelps.

But fast forward 50 years. Now this area is filled with about 500 buildings, 150 of which are homes. That’s why the Benton County Board of Commissioners wants Greenberry Gap to join a fire district. But a number of the area’s independent farmers are against it because they say it’s too costly. For now though the plan is to start with Northpoint Annex, where homeowners have expressed interest.

“Benton County made contact with all those people and they’re all in favor of this annexation,” Phelps said.

That includes Rosenast who says he could have used the firefighters when his tractor went up in flames.

“Probably if I was under fire protection they could get it out in time,” said Rosenast.

The Corvallis Rural Fire District Board of Directors has voted to annex part of the area. At a meeting Monday night at 7 p.m., the Philomath Rural Fire District Board will decide whether to absorb the rest.

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