Fire destroys Cornelius Chiropractic building on Baseline Street

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - The Cornelius Chiropractic team had to relocated to a space attached to Cornelius Veterinary clinic.A two-alarm fire destroyed a Cornelius building, displaced a business and left multiple tenants homeless.

The 1925 building at 1250 Baseline Street was home to Joseph and Heymi Hamlin’s Cornelius Chiropractic clinic and about eight people who lived in apartments upstairs.

A recently completed investigation didn’t lead to definitive conclusions about the cause, according to Matt Johnson of the Forest Grove Fire Department, but the fire started in the building’s storage room. The blaze was likely caused by a large work light set up to dry doors recently refinished with lacquer and polyurethane paints, Johnson said.

Joseph Hamlin said he left the clinic that evening and received a call about 10 minutes after he got home. It was Kelly McKelvey, the office manager, who heard the building was on fire and was on her way to check it out.

Hamlin thought it must be a mistake.

Firefighters from Cornelius, Forest Grove, Hillsboro and Washington County departments were dispatched to the scene around 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3, and arrived to find smoke streaming out of the top windows and out the back of the building.

A tenant told firefighters he was sure the fire was upstairs, Johnson said. When they made their way up, the tenant followed them, but was told to go back COURTESY PHOTO - Cornelius Chiropractic clinic, formerly at 1250 Baseline St., was determined to be a total loss after a fire this month.

The crew heard a voice upstairs and started searching for residents who hadn’t made it out, but it turned out to be the same tenant who had used a different stairway to make it up again. This led to a slight delay in fighting the flames, which were actually downstairs, according to Johnson.

Although only a small part of the building burned, the rest was severely damaged by smoke and heat. The clinic’s equipment was ruined, but the files were salvaged.

The Hamlins have been practicing out of the clinic for about four years, but Cornelius Chiropractic has been established there for more than 50.

The Hamlins have moved into Cornelius Veterinary Clinic’s additional space for the time being, until they can find a new space. In an attempt to prevent patients from finding a new doctor while the clinic relocates, Hamlin said, they’ll open for business again this week in the temporary location.

Hamlin refunded his tenants’ deposits and October rent money. Although he offered renter’s insurance, which would have covered property loss and helped with relocation expenses, none of them had it.

Laura Bryan, 64, has lived in the apartments for 16 years, and now has nowhere to go. She’s currently staying with family while she looks for other options, but being disabled and living on Social Security, she’s unsure if she’ll be able to find a place. While the Red Cross provided hotel rooms for tenants for several nights, that service has run out.

Cornelius Chiropractic can be reached at 503-357-3821.

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