Apartments destroyed by Saturday morning fire

2009-08-30T03:00:00Z Apartments destroyed by Saturday morning fireBy Rachel Beck, Corvallis Gazette-Times Corvallis Gazette Times

An early morning fire caused significant damage to a Corvallis apartment complex Saturday.

According to information from the Corvallis Fire Department, at about 3:20 a.m., a caller reported an apartment fire in the 1600 block of Northwest Harrison Boulevard.

Arriving firefighters saw smoke and flames coming from the back of the building and spreading to the second story of the two-floor structure.

Residents said they were awakened by other residents knocking on doors and windows. All occupants of the eight-unit building escaped safely. The fire was brought under control in about three hours, after parts of the roof collapsed. Fire investigators are trying to determine the cause of the fire.

Two people were treated at the scene for minor injuries.

Several cats escaped and were reunited with their owners. Two were taken to Willamette Veterinary Hospital for medical attention. As of Saturday afternoon, at least one cat was still missing.

Denver Speelman, who lives next door to the building, said noises woke him up at about 3:30 a.m.

"The first thing I heard was pounding; really loud pounding on all of the doors," he said. He also heard people yelling 'Get out!'

"Before the fire department got here, it was really chaotic," he said. "Most of the neighborhood was up by then."

The building was fully occupied when the fire broke out, said owner Ed Epley. The building has fire detectors that are tested before each resident moves in, he said.

Saeed Pourbagheri, a Ph.D. student at Oregon State University who lives in the apartment building, said his room was the only one untouched by the fire. However, many of his possessions - including his laptop - were damaged by water and foam.

Pourbagheri, who is from Iran, was able to rescue vital documents, such as his student ID and passport.

"For international students, that is very important," he said.

Pourbagheri moved to the apartment about five months ago. The Red Cross has put him up in a local hotel, and he has friends he can stay with, but he was worried about finding a long-term living situation.

"It's bad timing, because new students are coming, the new term is starting; places are taken already," he said.

The Red Cross is assisting residents from six of the units with lodging, clothing and food. The building is insured, Epley said.

Epley lives in Corvallis but was not at home when the fire broke out. He said that he saw what looked like a party at the building when he drove by Friday night. Neighbors noticed the same thing. He said he didn't yet have an estimate on the damage and whether repairs were feasible. He expected the insurance company to check the building in the next few days.

Albany, Philomath and Adair fire departments moved up to staff Corvallis fire departments in case additional emergency calls came in while Corvallis firefighters remained at the apartment house fire site.

Copyright 2015 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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