A fire that appears to have been ignited by a faulty home heating system damaged a Blodgett home on Monday, Philomath Fire & Rescue reported.
Philomath firefighters responded to the fire at 12:09 p.m. in the 22400 block of Highway 20 and upon arrival found flames coming out of the rear of the single-story house, Deputy Fire Chief Rich Saalsaa said. An investigation determined that the fire originated in the furnace area of the home’s basement and spread to the first floor.
Philomath crews were the first on scene and Saalsaa said they attacked the flames from an outside position until more personnel could be sent. Fire & Rescue’s initial response included an engine with three personnel, a water tender with one personnel and Fire Chief Chancy Ferguson.
“The fire had spread laterally throughout the ductwork of the furnace and while the major part of the fire was knocked down within 15 minutes, there was fire spread that had to be located and extinguished, which took pulling down ceilings and walls and using a chainsaw to gain access to the void spaces were the fire had spread,” Saalsaa said.
After assessing the situation upon arrival, Ferguson called for a second alarm. Blodgett-Summit Rural Fire responded with two personnel and another engine from Philomath arrived with three more personnel. Monroe Fire and Adair Fire each sent an engine with three personnel and Hoskins-Kings Valley Rural Fire responded with a water tender and one personnel. Corvallis Fire was responding with a water tender but was canceled en route.
Because of the home’s location, several emergency vehicles needed to park on Highway 20 with personnel hiking up a hill during the operation, which lasted close to five hours, Saalsaa said. As a result, the Oregon Department of Transportation shut down an eastbound passing lane.
Saalsaa said the residents of the property, both in their 80s, tried to put the fire out on their own but were turned back when confronted by the flames. The residents escaped without any injuries. The Red Cross responded to assist the home’s displaced occupants.
Saalsaa said the five-hour operation included fire personnel helping the residents salvage memorabilia and important files from the house.
“The fire was contained to the kitchen area upstairs and damage to the living spaces downstairs,” Saalsaa said. “The house is uninhabitable at this time due to the lack of power and fire and smoke damage.”
Saalsaa added that estimates are pending for the loss of property and contents.
“The origin of the fire according to the owner’s statements and the actual layout of the scene indicate a failure in the heating system, which was an indoor wood-burning furnace,” Saalsaa said.
Philomath Fire & Rescue automatically responds to fires in the Blodgett district through an automatic aid agreement.