Neighbors alert residents
A Metolius residence was burned to the ground early Sunday morning, but five people sleeping inside escaped, thanks to alert neighbors.
Phillip and Linda Richesin, who lived at 258 Eighth St., in Metolius, with their daughter Bobbie, her boyfriend Taylor Elliott, and friend Donald Crow, were awakened by neighbors around 1:28 a.m.
According to Tom Jaca, Jefferson County assistant fire chief, Travis and Tina Howell, of Metolius, spotted the fire. Travis Howell awakened the family and helped them get out, while his wife called 911.
The Jefferson County Fire Department was on scene by 1:35 a.m., and fought the fast-moving fire with two structure engines and nine fire personnel.
"Strong winds fanned flames, making conditions very difficult to suppress fire," said Jaca.
Fortunately, the winds pushed the fire away from the house that was closest, on the south side, he said, but instead, embers blew across the street and fell on another house, where firefighters stopped them from starting another fire.
Two adult dogs made it out of the house, but one adult dog and seven puppies died in a back bedroom.
Total loss was estimated at nearly $78,000 -- including complete destruction of the 1,160-square-foot, three-bedroom home, owned by Scott Taylor, of Madras. The 65-year-old house was valued at $43,306, with contents estimated at $34,645.
The content estimate included damage to five vehicles parked outside. "It was primarily heat damage from the fire," said Jaca, noting that all vehicles were drivable.
Cause of the fire, which started on the south side of the house, is still under investigation. "We didn't find any smoke detectors," said Jaca.
The Red Cross is taking care of the family, said Jaca.
An account has been set up at Mid Oregon Credit Union, under the name "Linda Richesin," to assist the family.