Home, barn lost in blazes
Wildfire school brings extra fire crew units
July 16, 2003 — Jefferson County fire crews were busy over the weekend with two structure fires, which destroyed a barn and home in Madras.
Saturday's heavy winds compounded the extinguishing of a barn fire at 1 p.m., at the Fred Starkel farm on NW Dogwood Lane. The fire apparently began when the owner was burning weeds and brush outside.
At the time, Jefferson County Fire District No. 1 was hosting its annual wildfire school, and because of the chance the fire could quickly spread, several of those fire units also responded, including ones from Warm Springs, Yamhill, Corvallis, Lebanon, and Philomath.
"I was looking at spots going out in the field, so I called for the task force. If the fire would have taken off, it would have gotten to the airport," said Fire Marshal Mark Carman.
A unit from Yamhill pumped water out of the irrigation canal to douse outbuildings, while Madras and Culver crews concentrated on the barn. The blaze was fought for four hours.
Firefighters were able to save a doublewide mobile home, the singlewide mobile home residence, a school bus and large RV, but three farm vehicles, some farm equipment and the barn were lost. Losses were estimated at $25,000 for the barn and $15,000 for its in contents.
Starkel suffered a cut on his foot from metal or glass while trying to put out the fire, and was treated at Mountain View Hospital.
On Sunday morning, a call was received at 7:53 a.m., that the Leona Waldow home on SE Eighth Street in Madras was in flames.
The fire department responded with three engines and 18 personnel, but the home was fully-engulfed and could not be saved. Crews worked until noon suppressing the fire, and salvaging things from the home. The loss was estimated at $60,000 for the home and $40,000 for the contents.
Carman said the cause of the fire was an exploding light-bulb.
"(Waldow) was in her livingroom when the bulb in an antique lamp exploded and sent sparks onto the furniture and the fire spread. It was all she could do to make it out of the house," Carman said, adding, "then she watched as 60 years worth of history went up in smoke."
The home contained many antiques and keepsakes, which were lost. Firefighters were able to save some coins, sterling silver, photo albums, and ceramics. Waldow's pet Chihuahua and six cats also perished in the fire.
Red Cross was contacted to assist Waldow in replacing immediate necessities lost in the fire, and she is currently staying with family members.
In addition to the two big fires, and hosting the fire school, two engines from Madras and a crew of four had also been called on Friday to help with the possible evacuation of Black Butte Ranch due to the approaching Link Fire. The crew spend 30 hours there, until the Link Fire was contained.