House fire north of La Center causes $350,000 in damage

By Dave Kern, Columbian assistant metro editor

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A two-alarm fire caused an estimated $350,000 in damage to a house north of La Center on Saturday night.

“The main house was destroyed, and we were able to stop the fire from extending into the mother-in-law apartment,” said Battalion Chief Gordon Brooks of the fire at 40018 N.E. Christensen Road.

Three people escaped; one woman was treated for smoke inhalation by North Country EMS. Brooks said the woman treated for smoke inhalation had been trying to ensure the family’s pets were out safely.

Brooks of Fire District 10 said a neighbor saw flames coming from the roof and called 911 at 9:53 p.m.

“The house was completely involved when the first firefighters arrived,” Brooks said of those at the scene within about five to seven minutes. “We were behind the curve from the very beginning.”

Brooks said he believed the fire started in the attic. He put damage to the house at $260,000 and said contents were valued at $80,000 to $90,000.

The house is owned by Bret and Jennifer Kifer, according to Clark County property records.

The Red Cross has offered assistance, Brooks said.

An estimated 28 firefighters from District 10, Clark County Fire & Rescue and Woodland Fire Department responded, Brooks said.

The cause is not known, and a Clark County fire marshal is investigating.

Crews stayed on the scene until 5:30 a.m. Sunday.

“It was a big fire,” Brooks said.