UPDATE: Fire Destroys Rural Camas Home as Fire Fighters Battle Flames Under Dangerous Conditions

January 22, 2012

by Martha Martin

A Fire fighter aims a stream of water at flames which destroyed a home on 222nd Avenue north of Camas Saturday evening (photo Dan Burch ECFR)

(This story has been updated with new information)

A home in a rural area of north Camas was destroyed by fire Saturday evening.  The house, located at 3602 NE 222nd Avenue,  was occupied at the time a call was made to East County Fire & Rescue.

According to information released by Chief Scott Koehler, East County Fire & Rescue (ECFR) received a call at 4:35 PM that smoke was in a rural home.

People in the home reported hearing a loud noise coming from the basement, which was followed within seconds by smoke filling the house.  The two elderly residents living in the home escaped without injury.

Fire fighters battling blaze as fire destroys home north of Camas (photo Dan Burch ECFR)

Responding to the call were Fire Fighters from East County Fire & Rescue, the Vancouver Fire Department, Clark County Fire District No. 3, and the Camas Fire Department.

First to arrive at the scene was Fire Fighter and Officer Dan Burch and crew with Engine 91 from ECFR.

Upon arrival, Officer Burch reported smoke from the roof, found smoke in the house, and found flames in the basement.

According to Burch, crews entered the basement, trying to extinguish the basement fire to save the structure–but were slowed due to what was described as “the massive storage that was hoarded in the basement.”  Fire fighters worked their way along a narrow pathway between tall stacks of stored items, trying to get to the fire.  Before they could extinguish the flames, the stored ‘fuel’ ignited, causing extreme and rapid heat build-up, and forcing crews to evacuate the building.

Fire fighters had to drop their hose lines to facilitate a safe ‘abandonment’, as they quickly averted becoming burned by the fire.

The fire continued to spread up through the floor and ignited the main living area.  The house then began collapsing into the basement, where it eventually burned itself out.

Twenty-five Fire Fighters battled the fire from the outside.  Adding to the danger were exploding black powder and loose ammunition which were stored in the basement of the home, and propane tanks, which kept Fire Fighters from working close to the structure.

A narrow half-mile long driveway to the home and the absence of fire hydrants provided additional challenges.  Water tenders supplied the 12,000 plus gallons of water used to confine the fire to the burning structure.

No Fire Fighters were injured, and the two residents escaped without injury.

Camas rural home destroyed by fire Saturday evening. (from Clark County Property Information)

The 3,600 square foot home was a one-story single family dwelling which included a full basement.

The home, which is listed as owned by Gwenna Merritt, was a total loss from the fire.  The residents of the home are now staying with nearby relatives

An investigation of the fire is being conducted by the Clark County Fire Marshal’s Office.