Hotel fire damage: $5 million

22-member National Response Team to help investigate blaze at vacant Thunderbird

By Dave Kern, Columbian assistant metro editor

Published:

 
photoFirefighters on Monday continue to hit hot spots on the ruined Thunderbird hotel on Hayden Island, just across the Columbia River from Vancouver. Officials pegged damage at $5 million.

(/The Columbian)

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Fire experts Tuesday will be looking for what caused the Sunday morning blaze that destroyed the Thunderbird on the River hotel. The fire caused an estimated $5 million in damage, a Portland Fire & Rescue official said.

The National Response Team will be going through the rubble, said Coleen Domenech, resident agent in charge for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. There were four special agents on the scene Monday and the full team will number 22, Domenech said.

She said it was far too early to tell if the fire was deliberately set.

Meanwhile, Portland firefighters still were pouring water on hot spots Monday afternoon, and smoke was wafting over the adjacent Interstate 5 Bridge. Twelve firefighters worked the scene Monday, said Ron Rouse, a Washougal resident who's an inspector with Portland Fire & Rescue.

Domenech said the ATF will be working with Portland Fire & Rescue, and a press conference is scheduled for this morning.

"They (fire experts) will eliminate all possible causes" to get to the exact cause, Domenech said. She is based in Portland and has been with the ATF for 22 years.

"It could take weeks to get results back from the lab," Domenech said of the investigation.

The Thunderbird remains cordoned off with yellow police tape.

According to Multnomah County, Ore. property records, the hotel is owned by Thunderbird Hotel LLC with a mailing address of 909 N. Hayden Island Drive c/o Howard N. Dietrich Jr. The Thunderbird is at 1401 N. Hayden Island Drive and the Red Lion Hotel on the River -- Jantzen Beach is at 909 N. Hayden Island Drive.

Calls to Howard N. Dietrich Jr. of Portland on both Sunday and Monday were not returned.

Property records indicate Thunderbird Hotel LLC buildings and property has an assessed value of $18,824,780.

The Thunderbird has been vacant since 2005. It has a central building and five wings. Four of the wings collapsed in the fire.

It was once mentioned for a Walmart store.

Some people wondered if the fire was a training drill; it was not.