Apartment complex ablaze in city’s second two-alarm fire in a day

By Mark Bowder, Columbian Metro Team Editor and Andy Matarrese, Columbian Breaking News Reporter

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A fire damaged eight units at an east Vancouver apartment complex Thursday evening, and scorched homes on the other side of some bordering arborvitae.

The fire was reported at 6:04 p.m. at Madison Park Apartments, 12901 N.E. 28th St., in Vancouver’s Landover-Sharmel neighborhood, as firefighters were still on scene of a multiple-house fire near Clark College.

Vancouver firefighter Raymond Egan said as one engine crew was on its way to the fire, it spotted a tall black column of smoke, so they called for more help.

They arrived to find one of the apartment buildings on fire, he said.

The fire damaged eight units between two buildings. Two houses on the back side of the building were also exposed to fire, he said.

Residents reported that flames appeared to have spread from one building to another through vegetation.
After about an hour, the fire was reported under control at about 7 p.m.

No one was hurt, he said, but one or two cats may have been killed. The Red Cross said the fire displaced 16 adults and two children.

The fire appeared to burn through the arborvitae, Jessica Froberg said, damaging homes along the west side of Northeast 130th Avenue, in a neighborhood next to the apartments.
“The apartments got it bad,” she said.

Rita Froberg, who lives in one of the homes on the other side of the complex, said it wasn’t clear what was going on until a neighbor looked out a window and told her it looked like her home was on fire.

Neighbors tried dousing the fire with garden hoses.

She said the fire damaged all the windows on that side, and she’ll likely need to replace some carpet, flooring and a TV.

The damage isn’t major, she said while waiting for a call from her insurer.

A total of 14 crews, from the Vancouver Fire Department, Fire District 6 and Portland Fire & Rescue responded, Egan said, filling the multi-building apartment complex’s parking area as firefighters worked through record degree heat. Fire District 3, the Camas-Washougal Fire Department and East County Fire and Rescue also responded.

The department had to call on help from neighboring agencies because so many firefighters were still tied up with the multiple-home fire near the community college, the other two-alarm fire that day.

Egan said either the city or county fire marshal’s office would be investigating the fire.

A C-Tran bus was brought in to provide a temporary cool place for displaced residents, and Red Cross was called in to provide assistance to displaced tenants.

Firefighters were on scene well into the evening.