Apartment Fire

Smoke damage and debris could be seen at the apartment complex following the apartment fire in Rainier. The blaze displaced 18 people.

Eighteen families are left without a place to call home following a fire outbreak at a Rainier apartment complex.

On Saturday, Nov. 20, at 12:24 p.m. Columbia River Fire & Rescue (CRFR) firefighters rushed to an apartment complex engulfed in flames on W. C Street in Rainier. Firefighters were able to contain the fire within 40 minutes, but not all the units were spared from the ensuing damages.

There were minor injuries, but paramedics didn’t transport anyone to the hospital, according to CRFR. Medics evaluated one patient with smoke inhalation and another patient who suffered from minor burns, neither of which required hospital transport by paramedics. Firefighters recovered a deceased dog in the aftermath of the fire, and one cat in the complex has yet to be unaccounted for.

Eighteen units were affected by the fire, with two of the units sustaining heavy fire damage and several others suffering heavy smoke and water damage, according to CRFR.

Investigators were still working to determine the specific cause of the fire as of late Tuesday, Nov. 23. The estimated amount of damage to the apartment complex was still pending, according to CRFR Public Information Officer Jennifer Motherway.

"These incidents are extremely difficult for the families involved, and they all need extra support," a CRFR Facebook post reads.

Clatskanie Fire, Longview, Cowlitz, Scappoose Fire, and Rainier Police along with Clatskanie PUD responded to the fire scene.

The Columbia County Fire Investigation Team also responded to the scene, and Red Cross helped by dispensing aid to the victims.

Public response

Community members have responded to the tragedy by rallying around the fire victims, with one Facebook user suggesting the community initiate its own donation drive for those impacted by the fire.

Turning Point and Hope of Rainier are also addressing the needs of fire victims through food and clothing vouchers.

CRFR recognized multiple agencies for organizing efforts to take care of the fire victims, including Fibe Federal Credit Union, Hope of Rainier, and El Tapatio. The credit union set up a relief fund for the families for the public to donate, while Hope of Rainier is currently accepting clothing donations for and providing food boxes to those displaced by the fire. El Tapatio generously provided a meal to the families the day after the fire and will be offering food certificates as well, CRFR officials said.

To donate those affected by the fire, follow the link on Hope of Rainier’s website: https://hopeofrainier.com/home.html and find the donation button, or click on the direct link: https://www.givelify.com/donate/hope-of-rainier-oregon-rainier-or-2j7wy5Njc5NDQ=/donation/amount.

As winter weather sets in, CRFR encourages residents and business operators to take precautions to avoid structure fires. The following are safety recommendations from the fire agency.

  • Working smoke alarms give you an early warning so you can get outside quickly.
  • Smoke alarms save lives and smoke alarms that are properly installed and maintained play a vital role in reducing fire deaths and injuries. If there is a fire in your home, smoke spreads fast and you need smoke alarms to give you time to get out.
  • A closed door may also slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire.

The following recommendations are from read.gov/home-fires:

  • Know two ways out of every room you are in, just in case one exit is blocked or too dangerous to use.
  • In case there is smoke, practice getting low to the ground and moving to your exits.
  • Decide on a safe meeting place that is a safe distance from your home or the building you are in.
  • Practice a home and business fire drill at least twice a year.

Follow developments of this story at thechiefnews.com and in the Friday print editions of The Chief.


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