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Firefighters at a blaze near Union Friday tackle the fire from the roof. A hole in the roof was used to ventilate smoke from the fire that spread to the attic. (Paul Harder/The Observer)
Cause of afternoon blaze unknown, but fire officials say structure suffered smoke damage
UNION — Firefighters from multiple agencies responded to a house fire just outside Union on Friday.
Firefighters from the Union, La Grande and Cove rural fire departments, along with the La Grande Fire Department, were called to 58338 Highway 237 shortly after 11 a.m.
Fire officials said they believe the fire started in the southeast corner — in a sewing room — of the house before spreading into the attic.
Firefighters created a ventilation hole in the roof of the home to allow smoke to escape.
Homeowner Hank Stockhoff said he does not know what could have started the blaze. Neither he nor his wife, Valerie, were home when the blaze started.
Stockhoff said he and his son, Jake, had left the house no more than 30 minutes before he heard about the fire to run some errands and even had to pull over for a fire truck, not realizing where it was going, he said.
Then Stockhoff got a call from his son-in-law, J. D. Cant, who told them there was a house fire two miles outside of Union “and the address is yours,” Stockhoff said.
By the time the fire was out, around 1:30 p.m., family members and friends had gathered at the Stockhoff’s small farm to make sure they were OK.
“We don’t worry about the small stuff. Things happen,” Hank Stockhoff said. “We just deal with it.”
Union Rural Fire Assistant Chief Frank Maestas said the house received “significant smoke damage” throughout. Firefighters could not identify a cause of the fire.
Maestas said he and other agencies were dealing with limited resources during the fire, as a Union-Baker task force had been sent to John Day the night before to help firefighters there. That’s why so many agencies were called for help.
“We’d rather have too many than not enough,” Maestas said.
Stockhoff said he was grateful for firefighters who know what they’re doing.
“We feel very fortunate,” he said. “No one was injured.”