Firefighters stay busy in trio of fires which claim two homes

Hood River Valley fighters spent a hot weekend mopping up at two separate blazes that destroyed one structure and damaged two others.

The first alarm sounded about six p.m. on Saturday and sent the Hood River Fire Department scrambling to a duplex fire on Sieverkropp Road in the Heights. They arrived to find both units in flames that had sent embers showering onto other properties. Their problems were compounded when an attic fire was sparked in a neighboring house on Kropp Court. Firefighters from West Side, Odell, Pine Grove, Parkdale and Mid-Columbia swarmed to the scene but were unable to prevent the roof from collapsing into the duplex, which was destroyed. A shed in another nearby yard also burned. Flames torched the lawn of a third home, but the structure was undamaged.

Fire Chief Don Petito said the attic fire was extinguished in the other structure but it sustained damage from smoke and water. The Red Cross arranged temporary lodging for Lisa Mauroni and Laney Gale, duplex residents, and homeowners Ken and Tovy Anderson. Volunteers from the Trauma Intervention Program, a victim assistance group, provided moral support for the families during the crisis.

The state fire marshal surveyed the scene on Monday but has not yet rendered a decision about the cause of the blaze.

However, Sunday’s destruction of an abandoned house on Riordan Hill Drive has been termed “suspicious in nature.” West Side Fire Marshal Jim Trammell said the residence had been left unlocked and vacant for many years. In addition he said there was no electrical service to the structure so the cause of the blaze cannot be faulty wiring.

“There’s nothing there that could have started it unless someone had been in there doing something like burning a candle,” he said.

West Side was paged to the scene about 8:45 a.m. on Sept. 28 after the owner of the structure, John Piatt, passed by and found it on fire. The house was fully engulfed when West Side arrived and they called in other valley fighters to help knock the aging wood down into the basement where the blaze was finally extinguished. The flames had also crept into the nearby underbrush and the Oregon Department of Forestry helped to extinguish the wildfire that consumed about one-fourth of an acre of dry grass and vegetation.

“Our biggest concern was that the fire would go up the hill and get into other structures but we were able to knock it down,” he said.

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