Fire destroys Vancouver apartment under construction

Firefighters: Natural gas line fueled flames

A fire at a Vancouver apartment site under construction on June 20, 2014. (KOIN 6)
A fire at a Vancouver apartment site under construction on June 20, 2014. (KOIN 6)

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN 6) — Flames took over an apartment complex under construction early Friday morning, and fire officials said it won’t be until Saturday until they are able to safely walk into the burn zone.

The fire was reported around 3:15 a.m. near the intersection of Southeast Tech Center Drive and Redwood Circle.

Vancouver’s Fire Marshal Heidi Scarpelli said it is still too soon to determine a cause of the fire. Scarpelli said fire commanders quickly called for a second alarm, which brought in about 40 firefighters from Vancouver and Camas, Wash.

The City of Vancouver Arson Investigation Team has been activated and is on scene, Scarpelli said.

“Right now our goal is to gather as much evidence and intelligence as possible,” Scarpelli said. The fire has not been called arson or even suspicious.

Scarpelli said the arson team consists of officials from the Vancouver police and fire departments. As of 6:30 a.m., Scarpelli said they were in the initial stages of interviewing all the 911 callers and checking for surveillance video that may show the early stages of the fire.

When crews arrived, they found the building consumed by heavy flames, Scarpelli said. Firefighters took a “defensive approach” — meaning they did not send any firefighters into areas burning and, instead, poured water on the flames from the exterior using ladders and pumps.

The City of Vancouver’s Water Department responded to help regulate the flow of water.

Natural gas helped fuel the flames until NW Natural Gas was able to respond and turn off the lines.

There were no reported injuries as a result of the fire, Scarpelli said.

The complex under construction was going to be a four-story apartment building with approximately 90 units.

Scarpelli said they will likely bring in a specially trained fire dog that is able to detect any accelerants. She also said they may ask for assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Fire commanders said they expect the current flames to burn throughout Friday.

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