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Occupant escapes house fire

Firefighter slightly injured while battling blaze

A home in Big Valley Woods Park, 2 miles from Eagle Creek toward Sandy on Highway 211, was badly damaged by fire Tuesday, April 22, but the occupant and pets escaped safely.

When fire fighters arrived Tuesday evening, the manufactured home's kitchen was heavily ablaze. According to fire investigators, the fire started there after a burner was left on and unattended.

Boring and Sandy Fire District crews teamed to fight the blaze. Their efforts were hampered by a large amount of household goods and debris spread about the house, making it difficult to enter and access the fire. Unable to get into the kitchen, firefighters opened the kitchen's exterior wall with a chain saw to attack the flames.

One firefighter received minor injuries when an exterior stairway collapsed, causing him to fall. He was cared for at the scene and returned to duty.

Barry Lee Newbold, 58, of Hood River, was house sitting the home for owner Joycelyn Johnson at the time of the fire. Lee told investigators that he had turned on a burner to cook dinner at about 7:15 p.m. but then walked outside to take a phone call. He said that he thought he had turned the burner off.

At about 7:30 p.m., Lee noticed smoke coming from the house. He entered the home and retrieved two guinea pigs from a bedroom. Not able to go into the rest of the home due to the smoke, he called 9-1-1 and reported the fire.

Investigators discovered that the burner was actually in the high position. Combustible items kept too close to the burner most likely ignited and started the blaze, which burned unchecked while Lee was outside.

The kitchen was heavily damaged by fire; smoke and heat damaged much of the rest of the house.

Three fire engines, two water tenders, a support squad and two fire command units responded to the call. Nineteen firefighters fought the fire.