Rosemary Reynolds contributed to this story
FOREST GROVE, Ore. — A fire alarm at an old home at 17th and Birch alerted firefighters to a blaze on Wednesday morning. Fortunately, the owner was staying with her sister last night. She was shocked to get the phone call that her longtime home was on fire.
“I can’t figure out what would’ve happened,” said Gwynn Steinbach.
Investigators believe the fire started on the first floor. Navigating through the home was tough. It took crews nearly an hour to knock down the flames and another two hours to put out hot spots in walls and the attic.
“We found that there was a lot of clutter in the house and we couldn’t verify that anybody was out, so we did a full search to make sure no one was in there,” said Matt Johnston of Forest Grove Fire.
Crews searched two floors, nearly depleting their first engine assignment. It was 22 degrees with a wind chill in the teens, tiring firefighters quicker than usual. The cold temperatures further complicated matters as the water used to fight the blaze froze to the ground. The ice was melted using de-icing crystals to prevent slipping and sliding.
The house was built around 1872. It’s listed as a historical landmark in the city, known as the Roe House.