Vancouver house fire displaces 7 (with video)

Takes firefighting crew 70 minutes to extinguish

By Emily Gillespie and Patty Hastings

Published:

Updated: August 14, 2013, 8:46 PM

 
Garage fire

A Wednesday afternoon house fire in Vancouver’s North Image neighborhood took firefighters more than an hour to get under control. The blaze displaced five adults and two children living in the home, a rental split into two units.

The fire at 6406 N.E. 137th Ave. was reported just before 2 p.m. as a garage fire. Plumes of black smoke could be seen by motorists on Interstate 205. When Vancouver firefighters arrived, flames were showing from the garage area and working their way into the attic, said Capt. Scott Willis. All of the residents were outside, uninjured.

The older, L-shaped house with an overhang posed a lot of problems to firefighters, he said. As the fire made its way to the attic, the plywood ceiling made it difficult for firefighters to access the attic space. Most ceilings in modern homes are made of sheetrock.

The home also had a second roof built on top of an older one that eventually sagged, making it dangerous for firefighters to attack the blaze from above. It took 70 minutes to get the fire under control. During that time, traffic was blocked on Northeast 137th Avenue.

The home is considered a total loss, Willis said. Preliminary estimates indicate the fire caused $130,000 in damage to the structure and its contents.

A small motor home at the back of the house also was destroyed and an 80-foot tree was damaged by fire.

Fighting the fire in hot weather fatigued the crew, which was reminded every 10 minutes by 911 dispatchers how long they had been working. A fresh crew of firefighters was brought in Wednesday evening to mop up the smoldering remnants. No one was injured.

The American Red Cross came out to assist the displaced families. The Vancouver Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the cause of the fire.

According to Clark County property records, the home is owned by Jeremy and Brenda Harmon, who reside in Battle Ground.

View a video of crews fighting the fire on The Columbian's YouTube Channel.