Woodburn house catches fire close to midnight New Year's Eve
No cause has been determined in the fire that consumed an abandoned Woodburn house inhabited by squatters on New Year's Eve. The house, located near East Lincoln Street, went up into flames on Dec. 31 minutes before midnight, causing extensive damage but no injuries or deaths.
Neighbor Rich Raymond captured video of the fire on his cellphone. He told news outlets that he'd been celebrating New Year's Eve with friends and family when he noticed the fire.
"You could feel the heat from the fire because it's so big," Raymond told KOIN 6, a news partner of the Wood-burn Independent.
Another neighbor told KOIN, "It looked like hell."
Woodburn Fire District Chief Joe Budge said Monday that an investigation of the fire has been completed, and no definite cause was determined and no injuries were reported. However, he confirmed that squatters were living in the house.
"There were many squatters there, though there weren't any on the scene when we arrived," he said.
Budge said squatter residences often pose fire risks, especially due to makeshift heating mechanisms. Propane tanks and propane heaters were found throughout the house after the fire.
"It's possible that was the cause," Budge said.
Lt. Darin Unrein of the Woodburn Fire District said the district got many calls to that house before the New Year's Eve fire for unauthorized burning, including the burning of garbage, tires and plastics. He estimated that the district got about eight to 10 calls per year to the house, going back at least three years.