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Candle to blame in WL house fire

Investigators say major tragedy was averted thanks to closed doors containing the blaze

Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue (TVF and R) fire investigators say an unattended candle was the most likely cause of a Saturday afternoon fire that damaged a West Linn home.

The fire was reported to 9-1-1 dispatchers shortly after 3 p.m., according to Storm Smith, TVF and R public information officer.

Neighbors reported seeing smoke coming from the house at 1405 Rosemarie Drive. When firefighters from TVF and R's Bolton fire station arrived, they found fire and smoke coming from a second-story bedroom window.

They mounted an aggressive interior attack, and brought the flames under control in about 13 minutes, Smith said.

Investigators say the most likely cause of the fire was a candle left burning in a bedroom used as an office. The candle was atop a desk. Investigators place the damage estimate at $25,000, and credit the family's practice of keeping interior doors closed with preventing additional fire and smoke damage.

'This was a tragedy that was narrowly averted,' said Deputy Fire Marshall John Wolff, the fire investigator. 'The home's only smoke alarm had been disconnected due to numerous false activations from cooking.'

The 90-year old woman napping inside was lucky to be alive, Wolff said, and she made it out unharmed only because she awakened in time to flee along with the family's dogs. The husband, wife and adult daughter who lived there were not at home at the time.

Their insurance company has provided the family with temporary lodging. The home was not equipped with residential sprinklers, which Wolff says provide the maximum home fire safety.

About 20 firefighters from three TVF and R stations, one Lake Oswego fire engine and one Clackamas County Fire District No. 1 truck battled the blaze.

'Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue reminds everyone to never leave a room or go to sleep with a candle burning,' Smith said. 'Additionally, to have sufficient time for everyone to escape a residential fire, ensure you have working smoke alarms.'

Smith suggests replacing alarms that are more than 10 years old with newer alarms that have a 'hush' feature. The hush feature is a button that allows you to silence the alarm without disabling it. The alarm will reset automatically after a specified time period, allowing you to clear out cooking fumes or shower steam.