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Fire damages St. Helens home


Electrical arc considered cause in manufactured home fire

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The owners of the St. Helens home that caught fire, Earl and Elizabeth Murphy, along with their daughter, were all able to escape the fire without injury.Fire crews from Columbia River Fire & Rescue and the Scappoose Rural Fire District responded to a report of a fire in the Crestwood Mobile Home Park located at 2154 Oregon St., Number 63, in St. Helens at 9:13 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 5.

Fire crews from CRF&R and SRFD responded with three fire engines, a medical unit and several support vehicles, according to a statement released by CRF&R. No injuries were reported. Crews arrived to find smoke billowing out through the single-story manufactured home’s rear roof vents.

Firefighters concentrated their efforts on the structure’s attic and roof and the fire was officially under control within 30 minutes. Fire personnel remained on the scene for another two hours to ensure all hot spots were extinguished.

The home suffered significant fire and smoke damage and the residents were sent to a local hotel to await assistance from Red Cross, according to the statement.

Homeowners Earl and Elizabeth Murphy, along with their daughter, were able to escape the fire without injury. Earl said his wife had observed problems with circuit breakers tripping earlier that afternoon and later, when he returned home from work, they smelled smoke and heard popping and crackling noises in the attic above the home’s restroom, according to the statement. Earl determined there was a significant fire in his attic and called 911.

Although the specific cause of the fire is under investigation, CRF&R Chief Tappan hypothesized it was likely due to an electrical arc, the statement reads. Tappan said the extremely cold weather was a factor in the fire and suspected that overloaded electrical circuits had also been a contributing factor.

Damage to the home is estimated at about $10,000. The home’s damaged contents likely amount to about $1,000, according to preliminary assessments.

In the CRF&R statement, Tappan urged all residents to “be very careful with their heating appliances during the winter season and be sure to not place too large a load on any one electrical circuit.”

Tappan also cautioned residents not to place combustible items such as clothing, furniture or paper items too close to heat sources.