Spitting pitch suspected as cause in blaze

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Homeowner Jesse Jackson said he was working outside when he noticed what he thought was a thick fog rolling through his property. Soon after, he discovered the haze was actually smoke coming from his home on Scappoose-Vernonia Road. The Scappoose Rural Fire District responded to a non-injury structure fire on Scappoose-Vernonia Highway in Scappoose on Saturday, Dec. 14, at 1:03 p.m.

The fire was investigated Monday and was determined to have been caused by “spitting pitch,” or a hot ember from the homeowner’s wood stove.

The sole owner and occupant of the home, Jesse Jackson, told SRFD personnel he heard a popping sound while loading wood into his stove, but was not aware of a hot ember that may have landed into a container of kindling and firewood near the stove. Investigators speculate the wood caught fire, causing the rest of the structure to ignite.

Jackson told SRFD personnel that he was outside working on his well and noticed what he thought was fog rolling in. Jackson continued to work outside until the haze formed a different shape and he realized it might be actually be smoke. When he finally approached his home, Jackson found that it was too hot to enter and was filled with smoke.

Since he had no cell phone service, Jackson had to visit three neighbors before finding someone who was home so he could call 911. Fire personnel arrived to find smoke billowing from the two-story home.

Firefighters extinguished the fire by 2:01 p.m. and the scene was cleared at 4:18 p.m.

The American Red Cross was contacted to assist Jackson with emergency housing. The structure and its contents were valued at $210,000 and suffered an estimated $75,000 in property loss and $20,000 content loss, totaling $95,000. The homeowner is insured.

Scappoose Rural Fire District responded with one engine, two water tenders, an ambulance, two support vehicles and 15 total personnel.

Columbia River Fire and Rescue also responded to assist with an engine, a water tender, a support vehicle and five crew members.

Contract Publishing

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