Spectacular fire destroys shops near La Center

By Tom Vogt, Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter and Craig Brown, Columbian Metro Editor



Firefighters had to take a defensive approach Friday morning when a blaze destroyed two shop buildings just east of La Center.

The fire started after 11:30 a.m. and was reported by a neighbor.

Three engines and about 10 personnel from Clark County Fire & Rescue responded to the fire near Northeast 344th Street and 31st Avenue.

There was no residential damage at the location, said Battalion Chief Tim Dawdy, spokesman for Clark County Fire & Rescue, nor was there any immediate clue as to how the fire started. A county fire marshal will investigate.

Firefighters radioed that they saw a large plume of smoke and flames radiating from the site, and the shops were fully engulfed in flames when they arrived, Dawdy said.

The firefighters concentrated on preventing the blaze from spreading into a nearby woodland, Dawdy said.

The responders had a fire hydrant nearby, which was a big help, Dawdy said.

“The woods are right there, and the dry weather really makes us cautious,” Dawdy said. “We stopped it (the fire) from moving. It took us half an hour to stop the threat.”

The Department of Natural Resources sent a crew to make sure the fire didn’t extend into nearby woodland.

“On a hot day, mopping up even a small brush fire takes hours and hours,” Dawdy said.

Shops and barns on acreage can be tough to save when they catch fire, Dawdy said.

“The construction is problematic: large open ceilings with exposed rafters and no drywall. Fire can run from the floor to the rafters in a matter of seconds” he said. “There are all kinds of -fuels” in those types of buildings as well. “We store all our stuff in there.”