Firefighters extinguish overnight attic fire north of Camas

By Paul Suarez, Columbian web producer

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Firefighters knocked out a fire in the attic of a home in the Fern Prairie area north of Camas early Tuesday, March 27.

Crews responded to a potential structure fire at 3802 N.E. Matney Road at 2:50 a.m.

East County Fire & Rescue firefighters arrived 11 minutes later and found a home with smoke coming from the exterior attic vents, said Chief Scott Koehler.

A man and woman were home at the time and woke up to smell of the fire. There was no smoke outside of the attic at the time, so smoke detectors didn’t go off.

“They were lucky that they smelled the fire before it breached the ceiling,” Koehler said.

Firefighters found smoldering material in the attic over two bedrooms. It appeared a pipe from a metal wood stove failed in the attic and had been burning a rafter for some time, Koehler said.

“Over a long period of time, this wood rafter has been basically turned into carbon,” he said. “For whatever reason, last night was the night” the rafter caught fire.

A total of 26 firefighters from East County Fire & Rescue and the Camas and Vancouver fire departments responded.

They pulled the ceiling down in the two bedrooms to knock out the fire.

“It’s just gut-busting hard work tearing down sheet rock,” Koehler said. “The insulation was falling down like snow.”

The home had minimal structure damage but significant interior damage due to firefighting efforts.

The home could have sustained significant structural damage if the residents didn’t report the fire as quickly as they did, Koehler said.

The home is owned by Brian and Genevieve Schmidt, according to county property records.

A Clark County Fire Marshal is investigating.

There were no injuries reported.