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Multiple hazards, including firearms located inside the home, presented obstacles to first responders.

COURTESY PHOTO: FOREST GROVE FIRE & RESCUE - Firefighters on the scene of a residential fire that destroyed a home in rural Gaston on Tuesday, June 30.Firefighters are investigating the cause of a fire that destroyed a home in rural Gaston and required more than 50 personnel at the scene Tuesday, June 30.

No occupants of the home, located in the 47000 block of Southwest South Road about one mile west of Gaston, were injured during the fire.

Multiple hazards presented obstacles to firefighters, who responded to the scene about 1:30 p.m.

"While responding to the scene, fire crews were advised that this incident location has residents that are not friendly with responders and that (sheriff's deputies) need to respond in first to make sure there was no one hostile at the location," said Matt Johnston, spokesman for the Gaston Rural Fire District, in a statement Tuesday.

Deputies knew from previous calls for service at the address that residents of the home possessed firearms and ammunition that could pose a danger to firefighters, said Deputy Brian van Kleef, spokesman for the Washington County Sheriff's Office.

As deputies worked to determined whether it was safe to begin fire suppression, fire crews observed the structure was on fire and requested additional units for full first alarm response, Johnston said.

As firefighters entered the property, a downed power line at the entry of the driveway forced firefighters to avoid the area and prevented them from parking closer to the fire.

Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire after about 30 minutes with hotspot suppression continuing for hours after, Johnston said.

Only after the structure fire was put out were first responders able to determine there were no occupants in the home.

The fire occurred in a rural area without access to fire hydrants, forcing firefighters to bring in large water trucks carrying 3,000 gallons of water to the scene. The water trucks had to refill at a hydrant about a half a mile away.

"During the incident, two firefighters were evaluated and treated on scene for heat exhaustion," Johnston said. "Due to extended time on scene for hot spots and firefighters with heat injuries, additional resources were requested to the scene."

In total, the fire required the response of 53 personnel, 10 fire engines, five water trucks and fire chiefs from three different jurisdictions.

The Gaston Rural Fire District was assisted by Forest Grove Fire & Rescue, Cornelius Fire Department, Hillsboro Fire & Rescue, Banks Fire District, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, Yamhill Fire District, Dundee Fire & Rescue, Metro West Ambulance, and the Sheriff's Office.


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