Fires ignite around Clark County

Four blazes start within an hour of each other

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian Breaking News Reporter and Patty Hastings, Columbian Social Services, Demographics, Faith



Four fires that were reported within an hour of one another on Monday afternoon damaged multiple residences in Clark County.

In perhaps the largest fire of the day, the Vancouver Fire Department was called to Indian Hills Condominiums at 7931 N.E. Loowit Loop at around 1:30 p.m. The fire started in the end unit of a four-unit building, said Vancouver Fire Marshal Heidi Scarpelli.

Firefighters attacked the blaze at the condo in the VanMall neighborhood, bringing the flames under control within a half hour. A malfunction in either a fan or a portable air-conditioning unit started the fire, Scarpelli said. She said that air-conditioning units or fans should have clear space around them while they’re being used.

The fire caused an estimated $250,000 damage to the condo, as well as $20,000 in smoke damage to a neighboring condo, Scarpelli said.

Crews with the Vancouver Fire Department also were sent to a fire at a mobile home, 3700 X St., at 1:32 p.m. The fire may have started in a dryer, Scarpelli said. Additional details about that fire were not available Monday.

The other fires were in the Camas-Washougal Fire Department’s coverage area.

A fire outside of an under-construction house was reported at about 1:15 p.m. at 1919 N.W. 40th Ave. The fire started in a “junk pile” of leftover lumber, hay, some plastic and pieces of metal, said Battalion Chief Larry Larimer.

The grass around the home was short, so the flames didn’t grow tall. Construction workers filled jugs with water from the house next door and poured it on the fire. Although the home’s frame was scorched, there was no real structural damage, Larimer said.

The fire could have been caused by the hay bale spontaneously combusting or someone discarding a cigarette in or near the scrap pile.

“Sometimes, hay bales can get hot enough that they’ll spontaneously combust,” Larimer said.

At 1:50 p.m., Camas-Washougal firefighters were called to 587 53rd St., near the Orchard Hills Golf and Country Club in Washougal.

That fire started on a second-story deck that connects to the master bedroom, Larimer said. Because the homeowner wasn’t home, firefighters had to force entry into the home to access the deck.

Firefighters also had to cut a hole in the ceiling to make sure the fire hadn’t spread into other areas of the house. Fire charred the outside of the house and roof, and consumed a portion of the deck.

“Why that started on fire, we’re not sure,” Larimer said.

A couple possibilities are that planting material and peat moss inside of planters hanging on the deck’s railing got so hot that they started smoldering, or that a cigarette discarded in those planters ignited the plant material, Larimer said.

The fire is under investigation by the Camas-Washougal Fire Department.