One person suffered smoke inhalation Sunday night after attempting to salvage items from a burning shop building in La Center, according to Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue.
Shortly after 8:30 p.m., Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue crews were dispatched for a shop fire at 9000 N.E. 316th St., in a far corner of the agency’s service area. Initial reports stated that loud explosions were coming from the building, Battalion Chief Max Konkright said in an email.
There was a visible smoke column in the distance, Konkright said, and Clark County Fire District 10 and Clark County Fire District 3 were added to the alarm as additional units.
Crews from Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue arrived first to find a fully involved shop fire. They took a defensive position because it was unsafe to enter the building, Konkright said.
The homeowner became overwhelmed by the smoke while trying to retrieve a few items from the building, Konkright said. They were treated at the scene. No other injuries were reported.
“Recognition by the homeowner and family that their lives over property played an important role to minimize injury,” he said. “Too often, people assume they can go back into a burning structure for one more valuable item, not realizing that the most valuable items are their own lives. You can replace property. You cannot replace a loved one.”
Firefighters encountered a few obstacles during their response, including a single-lane road. There was one fire hydrant about 1,000 feet from the driveway, Konkright said, and the driveway was about 900 feet from the burning building. Crews used Fire District 10 tenders to shuttle water while staging two more tenders from Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue near the area.
The building was a total loss with heavy fire damage, Konkright said. A total of five engines and four water tenders responded to the scene.