Madras wrecking yard fire losses top $400,000

Fire's cause traced to oil furnace flue

MADRAS, Ore. - A fire that tore through a building at a Madras wrecking yard Friday afternoon caused an estimated $400,000 to $500,000 damage, Jefferson County fire officials said Tuesday.

Authorities determined Saturday that a problem with an oil furnace flue apparently sparked a fire that tore through a shop, office and parts storage building building at Ira's Sales and Service, sending up a tall black smoke plume and bringing fire crews from several nearby districts to the scene.

The fire was reported around 3:30 p.m. Friday, burning in a structure at the wrecking yard at 181 SW Merritt Lane, authorities said.

Fire Chief Brian Huff of Jefferson County Fire District No. 1 said the state Fire Marshal's Office helped investigate the cause of the fire, determined to be the combustion-air flue for the oil furnace in the building at Ira's Sales and Service on Merritt Lane.

The fire began in the attic, destroying two-thirds of the attic and about 25 percent of the rest of the building, Huff said.

The structure was valued at $240,000 and the rest of the losses estimated at $400,000 to $500,000 were from contents, officials said.

Winds posed a challenge, crews said, as the blaze threatened diesel tanks and ammunition, according to the dispatched mutual-aid call for structural-protection crews.

The mutual-aid call brought fire crews from Warm Springs, Prineville, Redmond, Crooked River Ranch and Three Rivers, Huff said. Some were on scene to help protect nearby buildings while others helped staff the area's fire stations in case of other needs.

"It's an old, old, old building," said fire Capt. Phil Johnston, who said firefighters were on scene for about four hours into Friday evening.

No injuries were reported.

A Jefferson County sheriff's deputy said Merritt Lane was closed at Highway 97, so fire hoses could be run from the nearest fire hydrant, at Miller Ford. The wrecking yard's owner, Bobby McDonald, watched from a distance, supported by community members who frequented the business.

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