An Oregon State Police arson investigator is helping local officials investigate a suspicious fire that destroyed a large two-story vacation home in the Cloverdale area southeast of Sisters.
The blaze was battled by crews from several agencies for about five hours Friday night.
The fire was reported just after 7 p.m. Friday by a resident on George Cyrus Road and quickly engulfed a two-story home at 17850 Warrin Road.
"We had several reports of it being in different areas," said Cloverdale Rural Fire District Chief Thad Olsen. "There were major delays in finding the address, and the homeowner was not home at the time."
The challenges Friday night were many, with agencies tied up on other calls, the remote setting and no nearby fire hydrants.
Olsen said Saturday about 50,000 gallons of water were used to battle the flames that destroyed the 2,700-square-foot home. He pegged the losses at about $400,000, including structure and contents.
Water tender after water tender made the journey down a gravel road, shuttling thousands of gallons of water to the blaze.
"Right now the goal is, with the heavy timber that we have and the potential for collapse, we are keeping all the firefighters basically out of the building, because there is essentially nothing to save," Olsen told NewsChannel 21 at the scene.
Fire crews from the Sisters-Camp Sherman, Black Butte Ranch and Crooked River Ranch fire agencies provided mutual aid to Cloverdale.
"We are assuming the owners are out of town, and we're not sure if they are full-time residents," said Olsen.
Fire investigators from the Oregon State Fire Marshal's Office and OSP Arson Section were involved in the investigation to determine the cause of the fire. The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office also responded to the scene.
Anyone with information that might help in the investigation was asked to call the OSP Arson Tip Line at 800-452-7888. Detective Andrea Vaughn is the lead OSP investigator.
Olsen says a monitored fire alarm like those used by schools and public buildings would have saved firefighters some headaches and possibly reduced the amount of damage.
"Of course, we deal with false alarms," said Olsen. "But we'd much rather go on a false alarm then go on a building that has been burning for up to half an hour, we assume, before it was noticed and a total loss."
"The fire wasn't noticed until it was well-involved, already through the roof -- basically a total loss before 9-1-1 was notified," he said.
Monitored fire alarms are usually tied in with burglar alarm systems or smoke detectors.
Firefighter safety also was a big concern, since it was a dark scene, and crews also had to avoid tall beams crashing down on them.