A wayward spark turned a routine home improvement project into an inferno Wednesday afternoon, destroying a barn and its contents in a rural neighborhood near Inavale School.

No one was injured in the blaze, which began about 1:40 p.m.

James Lucas said he was standing on a ladder using an electric saw to cut through the metal siding of a barn on his property at 26046 SW Inavale Way, off Bellfountain Road about seven miles south of Philomath, when the fire started.

“It was so fast you can’t believe it,” Lucas said. “I climbed down the ladder really fast, ran into the barn to get the hose, and by the time I got back it was out of control.”

Lucas said he took safety precautions before beginning the project, checking the area for combustible material and sweeping the floor inside the barn, but a spark from the power saw ignited dry chaff in a gap between the wall and the siding.

“I should have been using a hand cutter,” he said.

A horse and a goat were inside the structure, but Lucas was able to lead them to safety outside.

Philomath Fire & Rescue Chief Tom Miller said the barn was engulfed in flames when he arrived on the scene.

“The homeowner was out there with a hose trying to keep (the fire) at bay, but (the barn) was full of hay, so there wasn’t a chance.”

In addition to the barn and the hay, the blaze destroyed a camper, a horse trailer and assorted tack and tools stored inside. Miller estimated the value of the loss at $50,000.

“That’s just stuff,” Lucas said. “We can replace that stuff. That’s why we have insurance.”

His wife, Leslee Lucas, said she was glad her husband was all right and the animals got out safely.

“We have good neighbors who showed up as fast as they could,” she added. “That’s the kind of thing that makes you feel things will be OK in the end.”

Eight pieces of firefighting apparatus were sent to the blaze, with three more canceled en route. Firefighters had the blaze under control within about 20 minutes, Miller said, but mop-up work continued for more than two hours.

Philomath Fire & Rescue was assisted at the scene by teams from the Corvallis, Monroe and Blodgett-Summit fire departments and the Oregon Department of Forestry.



Special Projects Editor, Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald

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