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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow FIRE DAMAGES APARTMENTS



By T.L. Petersen

Observer Staff Writer

The remodeling of the 15-unit apartment complex at 2005 Second St. was set back by fire late Tuesday afternoon.

The La Grande Fire Department was called to a second-floor apartment at 4:26 p.m., according to Capt. Emmitt Cornford, who said the occupant arrived home, heard circuit breakers popping and smelled smoke.

Firefighters arrived within four minutes of the original alarm and quickly found the fire to be within a wall between the occupied apartment and one being remodeled next door.

Cornford said that the complex's 13 occupied apartments were evacuated with no injuries. Residents were allowed back into their apartments at about 5:15 p.m.

"The guys made a good stop," of the fire, Cornford said this morning.

He said there was damage to the remodeling. Firefighters had to tear out portions of walls in the two apartments primarily affected, and parts of the ceilings in three apartments, including the two being remodeled. Some water used in fighting the wall fires also accumulated in a first-floor apartment, but Cornford said he didn't believe the water caused any serious damage.

The flames in the apartment walls, he added, had extended into the rafter space of the complex, leading to the ceilings being torn down.

With 15 members of the fire department on scene at the apartment complex with two engines and an ambulance standing by, La Grande Rural firefighters were called for backup.

Cornford explained that on a potentially large fire, "extra hands" are usually called for. The five Island City volunteers and one engine helped with salvage at the scene and then returned to the La Grande fire hall to cover for the firefighters who stayed at the scene until about 7:20 p.m.

Traffic was diverted in the area around the apartment by La Grande Police, Cornford added.

Local investigators completed most of their work Tuesday evening at the fire scene, but will continue to work on the cause of the fire today, Cornford said.

"The owner of the building had been in the apartments earlier in the day remodeling them," working on plumbing and electric systems, Cornford said. Cornford declined to say if that is suspected as the starting point of the fire until the investigation is completed within a day or so.


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