Camas-area fire leaves family homeless

Crown Road blaze causes heavy damage to home's attic, roof




A fire caused extensive damage to a Camas-area house Tuesday morning, leaving a family homeless.

The blaze was reported at 9:08 a.m. at 3405 S.E. Crown Road, near the intersection with Strong Road, just outside the city limits of both Camas and Washougal.

Scott Koehler, chief of East County Fire & Rescue, said someone driving along Crown Road spotted the fire through the trees, stopped and pounded on the front door. At least one person, a woman, was at home asleep. She safely escaped the fire along with all of the family pets, which included dogs and a snake.

Firefighters from Camas, Washougal and East County Fire & Rescue stations arrived to find a large fire in the attic of the single-story home.

With the help of water ferried by tenders, they were able to hit the flames and knock them down by about 9:30 a.m., though heavy smoke and steam continued to pour from the wood-framed home for some time after.

Crews doused the structure with a mixture of water and foam to help prevent the fire from re-igniting.

The fire was mostly confined to the attic, but the roof and part of the living space also sustained damage. Flames spread through the walls to part of the basement. Parts of the ceilings and walls had to be opened to expose the fire, leaving the house uninhabitable, Koehler said. He characterized the damage as “very extensive.”

Salvaging belongings

As firefighters worked, they made sure the fire had not weakened the roof above them enough for it to collapse. By 9:40 a.m., it began to sag in several places due to the damage beneath it.

“If it had gone on much longer we would have had to abandon the building,” Koehler said.

After the fire was out, crews worked to salvage what they could of the family’s belongings.

The American Red Cross was called to assist the occupants of the home.

According to county property records, the house is owned by Lloyd and Donna Compher of Camas. Koehler said the house is a rental.

Clark County Deputy Fire Marshal Richard Martin said the blaze sparked in a wood frame around the chimney. He said the frame is typical for older construction. The wood finally caught fire after a number of years, he said.

An exact damage estimate wasn’t available, but Martin guessed it would be something around $70,000 in damage to the structure and $20,000 to contents.