A La Grande home with three apartments is a total loss after a structure fire just before 4 a.m. today.

All occupants were able to get out safely from their Fourth Street home before the fire fully engulfed the structure, according to La Grande Fire Department Capt. Robert Tibbetts, who acted as incident command at the fire.

The home is directly across the street from La Grande Middle School. Fourth Street was completely shut down by emergency vehicles at the time but opened by 7:30 a.m.

Tibbetts estimated five people were in the building at the time of the fire. He said they don’t know yet what started the fire, which was mainly on the second floor, the main floor of the building, when he arrived on scene.

The fire spread quickly to the rest of the home, he said.

“We do have some wind, which may have been a factor to that,” Tibbetts said. “It’s also an older home.”

Victoria Hart and Brooke Benedict, who live next door, said they woke up to a wall of orange. They each called 911 individually when they realized it was a fire.

“I heard the electricity popping and the lights were flickering,” Benedict said.

They said an Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative employee was already outside cutting power when they exited their house in case the fire spread.

“The firefighters arrived quickly and immediately started spraying water on the side of the home that’s closest to ours,” Hart said. “So our home didn’t catch fire.”

See complete story in Wednesday's Observer