Monmouth blaze caused by electrical wires

Firefighters work to contain a blaze at 137 College St. N. in Monmouth on June 1.

Photo by Emily Mentzer
Firefighters work to contain a blaze at 137 College St. N. in Monmouth on June 1.



MONMOUTH — A fire destroyed the home of Sandy Newland, 137 College St. N., in Monmouth on the evening of June 1.

The call came in at 8:25 p.m. Firefighters from Polk No. 1 and Dallas Fire were on scene in about five or six minutes, Polk No. 1 Assistant Chief Neal Olson said.

Crews from Dallas Fire knocked out a chain link fence to access the roof, where they cut a hole to fight the fire. The blaze was battled from both outside and inside the home.

Olson said a couple of things made the fire difficult, including access.

“I’m worried about the structural integrity,” Olson said. “We already had the roof collapse in the garage. We don’t want to send anyone in there if the roof’s going to collapse.”

One reason for the quick response was the fire departments were in training. About 35 firefighters responded and had the fire contained and under control in about 30 minutes, Olson said.

Olson said the residents were not home at the time of the fire, but witnesses reported seeing a dog run away.

The family dog, Bear, was found the next day and returned to Newland and her grandson, who she raises.

A car parked in the driveway also caught fire, but was extinguished before the car was engulfed in flames.

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Firefighters battled through the roof and also through the front door. After about half an hour, the blaze was under control, but the house could not be saved.

The heat caused a power line that had been connected to the house to drop onto a car port.

Monmouth Power and Light responded to disconnect the live wire.

Olson said the cause of the fire was determined to be electrical, starting in the garage that was being used as a living space. While no civilians were injured, two firefighters were.

One was transported to the hospital for exertion/-heat exhaustion, and another remained on scene with an ankle sprain.

Western Oregon University Public Safety, Monmouth Police Department and Independence Police Department, the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Oregon State Police assisted.

Five engines, the ladder truck, an ambulance and four chief officers responded. Personnel were on scene for more than an hour extinguishing hot spots.

The structure and its contents are a complete loss, Olson said.

The American Red Cross provided resources to help Newland and her grandson, including basic needs such as temporary housing, food, clothing, comfort kits and information about recovery services, and health and mental health.

But the Western community is doing more.

Newland has worked for WOU since 1992, at the Advancement and Foundation Office. She has been actively involved in fundraising efforts in support of students and university programs.

Public relations specialist Lisa Catto said the WOU Foundation is sponsoring a special donation account for Newland at US Bank.

“She often reminds us that, ‘We are all here for the students,’” a press release stated. “Her love of our university is contagious and contributes to a strong sense of community, not only of students and faculty, but of all of those interested in life at the university — volunteers, retirees, community business leaders, alumni and other staff.”

To help: drop off donations at US Bank for Sandy Newland, or deliver donations to WOU’s Cottage.



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