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Two-alarm blaze destroys at least seven Salmon Creek businesses

By , Columbian Web Editor,
, Columbian staff reporter, and
, Columbian Local News Editor
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6 Photos
Clark County Fire District 6 firefighters walk around the site of a fire Wednesday, June 7, 2023, at Whipple Creek Business Park in Salmon Creek. No one was injured in the two-alarm fire that started late Tuesday night, but at least seven businesses were destroyed.
Clark County Fire District 6 firefighters walk around the site of a fire Wednesday, June 7, 2023, at Whipple Creek Business Park in Salmon Creek. No one was injured in the two-alarm fire that started late Tuesday night, but at least seven businesses were destroyed. (Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

UPDATE: Pacific Biocontrol pest management company was not among the businesses that burned in Tuesday night’s fire at Whipple Creek Business Park, 14615 N.E. 13th Court. The property’s C building, which contained 12 units, burned, and the D building sustained some fire damage, according to the Clark County Fire Marshal’s Office. The fire marshal’s office did not yet have the full list of businesses that were affected. This story has been updated to remove Pacific Biocontrol.


A two-alarm, fast-moving blaze destroyed at least seven businesses in a Salmon Creek industrial complex. No one was injured in the fire that started late Tuesday night.

According to Clark County Fire District 6, people working in the Whipple Creek Business Park, 14615 N.E. 13th Court, reported seeing smoke coming from an upstairs window and then hearing fire alarms going off. The fire was first reported at 10:43 p.m.

“Shortly after, smoke began to fill the building, tenants evacuated and called 911,” the agency said in a statement.

9 Photos
A burned Jeep sits inside the charred remains of a building Wednesday, June 7, 2023, at Whipple Creek Business Park in Salmon Creek. No one was injured in the two-alarm fire that started late Tuesday night, but at least seven businesses were destroyed.
Whipple Creek Business Park fire Photo Gallery

Firefighters from District 6 arrived to find the 11,000-square-foot building, which includes Fox Coatings paving company, “fully engulfed in flames.”

The Vancouver Fire Department and Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue assisted in fighting the fire, calling for a second alarm shortly after 11 p.m.

Vancouver Fire spokesman Capt. Raymond Egan said the fire caused explosions, which sent metal shrapnel flying into the parking lot. The debris struck vehicles in the lot, including a fire truck, he said.

“Firefighters established a defensive mode to keep the fire from spreading to nearby buildings,” according to District 6.

A total of nine fire engines, two squads, one training rig, two battalion chiefs and two trucks battled the fire. Some remained on scene late Wednesday morning. No firefighters were injured during the response.

Clark County Fire Marshal Dan Young said Wednesday afternoon the fire was under investigation; investigators were still digging through debris to determine the cause. The fire sparked in the southeast corner of the building, he said, but he wasn’t yet sure which unit it began in.

Young didn’t have a damages amount yet, but he said he conservatively estimates the property and content loss to be about $2 million.

“It’s a total loss, and it’s devastating to the community,” Young said, noting the number of people employed by businesses in the complex.

Tony Fox, owner of Fox Coatings, said he got a call at about 11:30 p.m. that his shop had burned to the ground. He arrived at about midnight to find the cache of tools from Fox Coatings’ 25 years in business gone, he said.

“I’ve never had a fire — never had a catastrophic loss. This is a catastrophic loss,” Fox said Wednesday morning. “I don’t even have a shovel today. This is devastating.”

He said the company took Wednesday to assess its losses and buy tens of thousands of dollars in replacement tools. But Fox planned for everyone to be back to work today.

“I’ve been doing this for over 2½ decades, and we’ve got a lot of friends in the industry that are our competitors that are my good friends — suppliers and vendors that are really supportive and strong. We will be back in business tomorrow,” Fox said Wednesday. “It’s going to be a struggle. It’s going to be hard. But we will have a crew back out tomorrow, and we will move on. We’ll survive this.”

The blaze continued a busy week for local fire agencies after two large brush fires Monday.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Vancouver Fire Marshal’s Office issued a recreational burn ban, effective June 15. The Clark County Fire Marshal’s Office issued an open burn ban, which is effective today. The unincorporated Clark County ban still allows for recreational burning.

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