At approximate 9:20 Pm Longview and Cowlitz 2 Fire were dispatched to a possible fire at the Westside Shopper - Fast and Friendly Convenience Market located at 1809 Washington Way. The market has been vacant for several years.
While units were responding dispatchers advised enroute companies that smoke was pouring from the building and glass was breaking. Fire crews arrived to thick black pressurized smoke emitting from the front cantilevered mansard overhang on the buildings front, with bystanders yelling "Get Out"... indicating that the building might be occupied.
The vacant building had been boarded up at the front door which required firefighters to use a chain saw to make forcible entry before initiating fire attack. Once inside a quick search determined the building was vacant. Firefighters located the seat of the fire, which started in the front corner of the building and extended into the attic space. Fire crews put the fire under control in approximately 20 minutes.
While on-scene, several bystanders shared information with Longview firefighters and police that the fire was intentionally set. The building was vacant and had not had electricity for over a year. The City also coordinated security measures recently from vandalism.
The fire in under investigation cooperatively between Longview Fire and Police. At the time of the Press Release the property owner has not been identified. The inside of the structure suffered significant damage, with estimated damages of $300,000 to the structure and contents. Due to the extensive glass front of the building, board-up security provisions were made to secure the scene.
There were no injuries as a result of this fire and neither neighboring building was affected by the fire or smoke. In total, 19 firefighters from Longview and C2FR along with four apparatus were utilized to stabilize the incident.
Longview, WA -- On Tuesday September 20 at 4:38 PM Longview Fire, AMR, and Longview Police responded to the report of a suicidal person at 1705 Hemlock Street, #5. The reporting person indicated that a subject at the incident address was posting suicidal messages to Facebook before the incident. The reporting person attempted to call the patient's cellular phone; the patient answered but was reportedly unintelligible and the 911 system was activated.
A Longview Police officer arrived at the scene at 4:43 PM and soon after making entry to the apartment, experienced a strong odor that made breathing difficult. Longview Fire Engine 81 with a crew of three arrived at the scene two minutes later. After receiving information from police, Engine 81 called for additional responders and made entry to the apartment using self-contained breathing apparatus. Once inside, they found a hand written warning sign on the bathroom door that indicated "Caution CO2". They entered the bathroom and found a semi-conscious patient on the floor -- they immediately removed the patient to the living room for emergency medical care and closed the bathroom door.
Additional Longview Fire units arrived at the scene at 4:48 PM and initiated air monitoring in the apartment, searched for other victims, and conducted an analysis of scene conditions. The patient was transported by AMR ambulance to St. John Medical Center in serious condition. On arrival at the hospital, the patient received additional decontamination procedures as medical care continued. At 4:53 PM, a firefighter complained of a burning sensation to his arm -- he underwent decontamination procedures at the scene and was transported to St. John Medical Center by ambulance. He received treatment for chemical burns to his arm. Other firefighters removed their clothing as a precaution and were evaluated at the scene without any indication of exposure. At the conclusion of the incident, the exposed police officer was also evaluated at St. John Medical center. The firefighter and police officer were released later in the evening while the patient remains hospitalized. No other injuries were reported.
The analysis of the incident scene suggested a continued threat of hazardous materials in the apartment and incident command staff requested a hazardous materials team from Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue. The hazardous materials team responded at 5:03 PM. Initial air samples inside and outside the building were normal. A representative from St. John Medical Center contacted the command post and advised that the patient was conscious and had told hospital staff about the chemicals in the apartment. This information was limited due to the patient's condition.
The Cowlitz 2 hazmat team was able to conduct detailed research prior to making entry. Based on this research, it was discovered that in addition to the toxic fumes there was also a potential that a combustible condition could exist in the affected areas of the apartment. On the receipt of this information all occupants of the apartment building were evacuated and electricity was disconnected from the structure.
A two person Cowlitz 2 hazmat team entered the apartment wearing protective suits. They evaluated the scene using specialized monitoring tools and equipment. The team exited the building and reported there was no flammable atmosphere inside the structure. The Cowlitz 2 team also reported normal monitor readings throughout the apartment.
Two personnel from the Washington State Department of Ecology's Spill Prevention, Preparedness and Response team were at the scene late into the night. The DOE hazardous materials specialists also entered the apartment wearing protective suits and performed additional tests. They removed contaminated materials from the apartment and neutralized them for disposal.
A representative from the Cowlitz County Health Department's environmental health unit was also at the scene. In collaboration with all the responding agencies, their technical experts, and the incident command team, it was determined that the incident was confined to apartment 5. The power was restored to the structure and all building occupants except for apartments 4 and 5 were allowed to reoccupy the building.
The Red Cross was contacted to provide emergency support to those displaced.
Continued testing is expected in apartment 5 on September 21 as coordinated by the Cowlitz County Health Department.
No hazardous conditions exist outside affected apartments.
As of 11:00 AM on September 21, the original responders who reported injuries are doing well and have returned to work. The condition of the civilian patient is unknown at the time of this release.
Incident Photos Attached
On Wednesday, August 31st firefighters from Longview and Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue (C2FR) were dispatched to an apartment fire located at 1593 Beech St in the City of Longview. The initial caller notified Cowlitz Dispatch at 9:11 AM and reported smoke was coming out of the wall and through the door jamb of her apartment unit. While fire units were responding to the scene firefighters were updated with information that a person was still "Hold Up" in an upstairs unit and would not evacuate.
Upon arrival firefighters reported smoke showing from the attic space, indicating a possible attic fire. As crews rounded the street from Beech St. to 16th they could see the face of an adult female calmly starring out the window. She was immediately adjacent to the unit on fire, with a crowd of frantic citizens pounding on the door trying to encourage her to exit the building. Fire crews immediately directed their effort to evacuate the occupant, using forcible entry to open her door and escort her across the street to an area of safety.
The six-plex building was initially built as a single family home, and over the years had been remodeled extensively, creating a non-typical layout and many confined spaces, which made locating and accessing the fire difficult. Firefighters worked tirelessly from two apartment units, opening "Knee walls" and pulling ceiling, which were a combination of new and old construction including shiplap and sheetrock.
Firefighters declared the fire under control after approximately 45 minutes of suppression efforts. The primary damage occurred to unit #104, where the fire originated. A second apartment unit (the unit that firefighters had to forcibly evacuate) suffered damage to the upstairs area when the fire burned under the floor and in the shared wall-space.
Fire investigators determined that the fire started in the clothes dryer vent centrally located in the downstairs of apartment #104 and spread upstairs and into the attic through a vertical soffit. Two units were determined uninhabitable due to the damage from the smoke and fire. There are no damage estimates at this time.
Red Cross was called to the scene to provide assistance for the displaced families and Servepro of Longview was assisting with smoke and water damage and other post fire assistance. In total, 21 firefighters from Longview and C2FR were called to control the fire.
Clothes dryers cause an estimated 20,000 fires per year in the United States. Longview Fire recommends cleaning your lint screen after every use, cleaning your dryer vent and exterior vent annually, and utilizing aluminum, metal, or metallic fire rated vent ducting only.