The homeowners were reportedly out of town at the time the fire broke out early Friday.

COURTESY PHOTO: CORNELIUS FIRE DEPARTMENT - A firefighter blasts away at flames with a fire hose at the scene of an early Friday fire in the 1400 block of Southwest 345th Avenue.A house on Southwest 345th Avenue east of Cornelius is expected to be a total loss after it was heavily damaged by fire early Friday morning, July 13, according to a Cornelius Fire Department spokesman.

Matt Johnston said the house in the 1400 block of 345th Avenue caught fire for unknown reasons while the homeowners were out camping on the Oregon Coast. A cat was home at the time of the fire, but it safely evacuated and is unharmed, Johnston said.

The call came in at 3:43 a.m. Along with Cornelius Fire, the Hillsboro Fire Department, Forest Grove Fire & Rescue, and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue also responded, as did the Gaston and Banks fire districts, which provided water tenders. The Washington County Sheriff's Office and the American Red Cross were also on the scene.

"They found heavy fire on the back of the house," Johnston said of the first responders. In the warm, dry, breezy conditions, that fire spread quickly along the back of the house and into the house, including the garage, in which a parked vehicle was "completely destroyed" by the blaze, Johnston said.

Due to the rural location outside Cornelius city limits, water had to be brought in, causing some initial delays in hosing down the flames, according to Johnston.

The fire was ultimately extinguished, Johnston said, but not before causing damage significant enough that he believes the house will likely end up being a total loss.

"It burned a good majority of the house," he said.

No other structures were endangered by the fire, according to Johnston, and no injuries were reported.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Johnston said investigators determined it likely started near a hot tub outside the house.

"We're looking into that right now," he said.

The estimated value of the loss from the fire is about $350,000, including the van in the garage that was destroyed.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with more details on the value of the damage and the parked vehicle.

By Mark Miller
Editor, Forest Grove News-Times
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