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July 4, 2020

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Fire damages Woodland apartment building

Exploding ammunition delays fire crews' efforts

By , Columbian Breaking News Reporter
Published:

The battle to contain an apartment fire in Woodland on Thursday was delayed due to exploding ammunition.

Clark County Fire & Rescue crews were dispatched at 9:01 a.m. to 560 Bozarth Ave. in Woodland for the report of a multi-residential structure fire.

The first crew arrived in about four minutes and found a fire burning on a patio and spreading into an apartment through a sliding door, according to a news release.

The fire also spread to the attic, said Fire Chief John Nohr. It was greatly accelerated when a propane bottle on the patio “vented a large fireball,” the release says.

Initial attempts to enter the burning apartment were delayed because of exploding ammunition inside. There were believed to be more than 1,000 rounds of small arms ammo in the home.

“We are used to a little bit of ammunition going off at a fire. This was so much more. It was challenging to command this fire with the noise of that much ammunition going off,” Nohr said.

There were no injuries.

Once all of the ammo had exploded, crews entered the building to search for occupants and assess the severity of the damage. Only the destroyed unit was occupied. The two other apartments in the building were being remodeled. The three tenants are out of town; they will be displaced, Nohr said.

The fire remained under investigation by late Thursday afternoon.

It took firefighters about 20 minutes to get the blaze under control, the fire chief said. Six engines and a ladder truck, which included crews from Clark County Fire Districts 3 and 6, responded to the scene.

The apartment building is in Cowlitz County; CCFR has provided fire service and emergency medical services to Woodland for more than seven years through a contract. On Aug. 4, Woodland residents will vote on the annexation of the city into the fire department.

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