Wednesday, December 2, 2020
Dec. 2, 2020

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Columbian newspaper carrier alerts family to burning home

Vancouver family safely escapes fire

By , Columbian Metro Team Editor
Published:

When Josh Long first heard the crackling noise, he thought it might be someone’s air conditioner acting up, but then he saw something odd while passing a house along his Vancouver paper route.

He looked at the front porch a couple of houses away. At first, Long said, he thought he saw decorative lighting. Then he realized there were flames coming from beneath the porch, climbing up the siding of the house.

That’s when he sprang into action, calling 911 at about 4:45 a.m. and then knocking on the front door to alert anyone inside. The homeowner, Chuck Graves, came to the door.

“I said, ‘Your house is on fire,'” Long recalled. “He started yelling at the people in the house. Luckily, he had a working fire extinguisher.”

Long said Graves quickly sprayed the flames, knocking some of them down as his wife left the house. Within a couple of minutes, firefighters from Clark County Fire District 6 arrived at 12212 N.E. 44th Ave., and rapidly cut away at the porch with a chain saw to get at the flames and extinguish the fire.

The fire was out in just a few minutes, and it did not penetrate inside the home, said Dave Schmitke, spokesman for Fire District 6.

“The whole thing was pretty surreal,” said Long, a subcontractor delivering papers on the route since December. “I had a lot of adrenaline going on. It was pretty intense. I realized later that the crackling sound I heard was the sound of a campfire. Had I been there 20 minutes earlier or 20 minutes later, it would have been a totally different story.”

It was the crackling sound that put Long on alert, he said. “That was an odd noise I hadn’t heard before on the route.”

It also helped that Fire District 6 had a unit nearby responding to a vehicle collision. Firefighters were able to arrive on the scene five minutes before other units in the area, Schmitke said.

But without Long’s quick actions, Schmitke said things could have been very different.

“He was in the right place at the right time,” Schmitke said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but Graves said fire officials have told him it could have resulted from spontaneous combustion in the fine bark dust near the porch.

Graves was thankful Long woke him up.

“A few more minutes, and it could’ve been a lot worse,” Graves said.

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