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Woodburn firefighting officials advise that recent house-fire scenario could have ended much worse

COURTESY PHOTO: WOODBURN FIRE DISTRICT - Woodburn firefighters battle a blaze at a west Woodburn home.Woodburn Fire District Division Chief Scott Heesacker recently issued a public-service reminder about the importance of working smoke detectors in homes.

Heesacker was the incident commander at the scene of a west Woodburn house fire, and he discovered that home did not have working detectors.

"Had the residents been asleep when the fast-moving fire occurred, there is a high possibility that fatalities would have resulted," Heesacker said.

The fire was believed to have ignited from an overheated box fan placed in an open window. The fire was detected by one of the residents who smelled smoke emanating from a back bedroom. Firefighters arrived and confirmed that the residents had exited the burning home but were advised that one of the family's dogs was missing.

Woodburn Fire Chief Joe Budge said firefighters conducted a rapid search of the home discovered the missing dog that had succumbed to the fire.

WFD Engines 20 and 21 arrived on scene and reported a one-story ranch style residence with heavy fire and smoke showing on the south side of the house. The fire had fully involved two bedrooms and extended into the attic before firefighters from Engine 20 arrived and advanced a hose line through the front door to extinguish the fire.

According to the consumer product safety commission about 2,000 people in the U.S. lose their lives in residential fires each year, and about two-thirds of residential fire deaths occur in homes with no working smoke detectors. Properly installed and maintained smoke alarms are the best and least expensive means of providing early warning of a potentially deadly fire and reduces by almost half the risk of residents dying from a fire in their home.

Firefighters from Hubbard along with Woodburn volunteer firefighters assisted Woodburn career firefighters on Engines 20 and 21 in extinguishing this recent fire.

"This is the first significant fire that has occurred when both career-staffed engine companies were in service." Heesacker said.

Engine 21 is currently the districts only 24/7 staffed engine, and Engine 20 is a peak-activity engine that is in service from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

"Having both career engines in-service allowed for quick, effective and safe fire ground operation", Heesacker said. "As Woodburn, Gervais and surrounding areas continue to grow, district leaders plan to incrementally add firefighters each year that will form a second 24/7 staffed engine by 2025."

Volunteers from the Woodburn CERT provided rehab for the firefighters at the scene. For information on how to serve the community as a volunteer firefighter or CERT member visit the Woodburn Fire website, woodburnfire.com.


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