Firefighters battle blaze in house north of Camas

House fire far from hydrants draws multiple crews hauling water tanks

By Mark Bowder and Marissa Harshman

Published:

 
photoFirefighters battle a structure fire on Northeast 222nd Avenue north of Camas on Saturday.

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3526 N.E. 222nd Ave.

Fire crews from four agencies battled a house fire in rural Camas on Saturday evening.

The fire at 3526 N.E. 222nd Ave. was reported at 4:35 p.m. The first fire engine, from Clark County Fire District 9, arrived at the house 10 minutes later, said Capt. Kevin Murray, Vancouver Fire Department spokesman.

Occupants reported hearing a loud noise come from the basement—followed within seconds—by smoke filling the home. The two elderly residents escaped without injury and are staying with nearby relatives.

Units arriving on scene reported seeing flames coming from the windows and smoke coming from the roof.

Crews entered the basement in an attempt to extinguish the fire but had trouble reaching the fire area due to the large amount of storage in the basement. Crews were forced out of the basement due to a rapid build-up of extreme heat—abandoning hose and nozzles to facilitate an immediate escape. No firefighters were injured.

The home is located at the end of a 0.4 mile-long long driveway in a rural area with no fire hydrants nearby, Murray said. Due to the amount of fire and the limited water resources at the scene, fire crews switched to a defensive attack, Murray said, and planned to remain on the scene throughout the evening to monitor the fire.

Camas Fire Department and Vancouver Fire Department, with three fire engines, also responded. Clark County Fire District 3 brought a water tender with a 4,000-gallon tank to assist. All told, water tenders supplied more than 12,000 gallons of water used to confine the fire to the structure.

Even with the water tenders, resources were limited, Murray said.

Vancouver Fire Department’s engines carry 500 gallons of water. A normal attack line uses 150 gallons of water per minute, Murray said.

The fire had time to grow while crews responded to the rural area north of Lacamas Lake, he said.

“Once a fire gets going like that, it’s fairly difficult,” Murray said.

Twenty-five firefighters battled the fire from outside the structure. Exploding back powder, loose ammunition, and propane tanks kept Fire Fighters from working close to the structure.

The structure, a one-story single family dwelling was approximately 3,600 square feet, including the full basement. The structure was a total loss. Fire investigation is being conducted by the Clark County Fire Marshal’s Office.

The cause and origin of the fire are still unknown, Murray said. A fire marshal will investigate the fire and should have answers to those questions in the next couple of days, he said.

Nobody was hurt in the blaze.

County property records list the home’s owners as Rocque and Marilyn Merritt.