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Dumpster fire burns apartments

Damages two units

by: Photo by Albert Bateman - A firefighter with the Jefferson County Fire Department lays out hose to begin to put out a fire that started in a garbage dumpster outside a unit at the Buff Apartments on Thursday evening, June 7. City and state police officers evacuated the 18-unit apartment complex before firefighters arrived.


   Transients, who had illegally entered a unit at the Buff Street Apartments, are believed to have caused a fire that threatened the 18-unit building on June 7.
   A passerby, who spotted the fire in a dumpster outside the unit at 165 S.E. Buff St., reported the fire at 8:46 p.m. and fire officials were on scene by 8:49 p.m., according to Tom Jaca, assistant chief and fire marshal for the Jefferson County Fire Department.
   "Quick response and favorable building construction kept property damage to a minimum," said Jaca, noting that the apartments are made out of pumice blocks.
   Fire officials have not determined how the fire was ignited, but it started in a green plastic garbage cart, outside unit 2, where Jaca said that transients had been seen earlier in the day.
   "We had a state trooper (Clint Prevett) and Tanner Stanfill (of the Madras Police Department) on scene prior to my arrival," said Jaca. "They had already begun evacuation, which was a big help."
   Although the fire put up a lot of black smoke -- primarily from two tires burning on the front patio, damage was limited. Because a concrete deck separated the downstairs apartments from the upstairs apartments, upstairs apartments only suffered smoke damage.
   Jaca estimated the loss of property and contents in two vacant units at $9,500 -- mostly for two vinyl front windows and new carpets. The complex, owned by William Bliss, of Bend, has an estimated value of $358,000, and is insured.
   The fire department responded with three structure engines, two support vehicles and 18 personnel, and were on scene until the fire was secured at 10:30 p.m.