Kitchen fire spreads to E. Vancouver home's attic

Damage estimated at $50,000

By Stover E. Harger III, Columbian neighborhood news coordinator

Published:

Updated: June 19, 2013, 7:57 PM

 

An unattended pan of grease left on a kitchen stove was blamed for a Wednesday afternoon fire that spread into the attic of an east Vancouver home, causing an estimated $50,000 in damage.

Vancouver firefighters arrived soon after a neighbor reported seeing flames at 3:16 p.m. in the Lewis and Clark Woods neighborhood. Smoke was billowing from all four corners of the two-story house and flames could be seen coming from a rear section of the roof, said Vancouver Fire Department Capt. Kevin Murray. The fire was contained to the upper level.

Homeowner Collette Harnage said she’s thankful no one was seriously hurt and that she has insurance. She lives at 13808 S.E. 22nd St. with her husband Alvin and 33-year-old nephew, Victor Saucier, who was treated for minor smoke inhalation at the scene. Two young relatives were also visiting when the single-alarm blaze began.

“I heard the fire alarm go off and I thought it was someone burning toast,” Saucier said between sporadic coughs. “That’s when I saw the entire kitchen in flames.”

Saucier tried to use a garden hose to put out the grease fire before emergency responders arrived. His efforts didn’t stop the flames from spreading up the wall of the second-floor kitchen and into the attic.

“There was nothing I could do,” he said.

The family will live with Harnage’s sister a few miles away while their recently remodeled house is repaired.

Soon after the fire was extinguished, a neighbor approached Harnage in the street, hugged her and slipped her an envelope of cash. Neighbors had previously entered the burning home to make sure the family could get out safely.

Tears swelled in her eyes as Harnage explained the neighbors’ good deeds. Her husband recently had a stroke and at first didn’t want to leave the couch, she said.

“My husband refused to come out,” Harnage said. “The neighbors went in and pulled him out. I have good neighbors.”