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Historic Tualatin Nyberg House damaged in late-night fire

Blaze is a big blow to city's historical society plans for old building
by: Jaime Valdez, The 102-year-old Nyberg House near Interstate 5 and Nyberg Street was damaged in a Wednesday night fire.

The 102-year-old historic Nyberg House, damaged by fire Wednesday night, looks to be 'beyond salvageable,' said Tualatin Historical Society President Norm Parker.

A fire engulfed the first floor of the vacant, boarded-up three-story house, located on an overgrown piece of land near the Interstate 5 and Southwest Nyberg Street interchange, across a parking lot west of the Big K Shopping Center in Tualatin (map).

'It's sure enough burned,' Parker said as he described looking at the scorched structure with a caved-in roof.

The destruction of the home is a huge blow to the historical society, which in the last few months has focused its attention on saving historic structures in the city.

'We've been concerned about this house all along,' Parker noted of the house which was once home to the second mayor of Tualatin, John Nyberg.

Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue crews arrived at the house at around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday to find flames shooting from the first level and portions of the second story. Because of the threat of a roof collapse in the longtime vacant building, crews fought the blaze from the outside.

About 25 firefighters responded to the incident.

Once Portland General Electric crews arrived to disconnect power to overhead power lines, fire district crews were able to use a truck with a 100-foot ladder to extinguish the remaining fire in the house's upper stories.

Firefighters were still at the scene at around 1:30 a.m. battling hot spots throughout the structure.

Interested in saving it

The house has long been a target of complaints involving vandalism and transients. This summer a transient reportedly set a small fire in the home.

Because structure was known to house transient activity, firefighters reportedly searched an adjacent building next to the main house. But crews found no evidence of anyone inside.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, and a damage estimate was not known.

Historical society members have tried for the past six months to reach the Nyberg House owners, listed as Dean and Rana McDale, but under a purchase contract with George A. Gill.

The society had hoped to ask that the home be donated to the group.

In October, historical society member Yvonne Addington said that the group's worst fear was that the owners were just waiting for the structure to fall down.

This year Addington planned to begin talks with the Tualatin City Council about updates to the city's historic structures list and more regulations that could encourage owners to maintain historic properties.

But with the charred remains of the historic Nyberg House, Parker said the group was extremely unhappy.

'We just weren't able to get any one interested in saving it,' he said.