Firefighters from the Lebanon Fire District were able to save a commercial building on Burdell Boulevard after a sharp-eyed driver noticed light smoke coming from the building on Monday afternoon.
The driver on Santiam Highway called 911 at about 2:50 p.m. Firefighters responded to the former Champion Mill site behind Walgreens where the first arriving unit reported heavy smoke from the lone 8,500-square-foot commercial structure remaining on the old mill property.
Due to the potential for a large-scale fire, the incident commander called for a second alarm to bring additional resources to the scene and to cover the Lebanon Fire District while on-duty crews battled the fire. Fire crews launched a rapid attack on the fire which stopped the blaze and saved the structure. Fire crews had the blaze under control in about an hour. There were no injuries to firefighters or civilians.
Damage was limited to some interior structural components with some heat and smoke damage to the metal structure.
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The property is believed to have been recently remitted to Linn County due to unpaid taxes.
Firefighters had to cut locks from large bay doors to make access to the structure while additional crews used powerful circular saws to cut access holes in the metal structure and direct water streams on the fire burning inside. The fire district’s new ladder truck was used to combat the fire as well. Crews extended the ladder into the structure from ground level where they could then use the remote nozzle to direct fire streams upwards towards the ceiling where heavy fire had built. Once the main body of fire was knocked down, crews entered the structure with hoses to finish extinguishing the fire and mop up remaining hot spots.
Lebanon Fire Marshal Jason Bolen said investigators were able to determine the area of origin of the fire but extensive damage from both fire and suppression efforts prevented investigators from singling out a specific cause. There were signs of forced entry into the structure through a wall panel, and the building was known to the Lebanon Police Department to be a home to transients.
“Based on the information gathered from our investigation it is possible that this fire was caused by a warming fire which was either left unattended and spread or simply got out of control.” said Bolen. “We were unable to determine a credible source of ignition, which unfortunately means that the cause of this fire will remain undetermined unless someone comes forward with additional information.”
Lebanon firefighters were assisted on scene by the Sweet Home Fire & Ambulance District and the Albany Fire Department. Officers from the Lebanon Police Department also assisted on scene. Firefighters from the Scio Fire District stood by at Station 31 and the Albany Fire Department provided a medic unit for district coverage.