A fire that burned a barn to the ground on Corduroy Road last Friday was likely caused by a wood burner, according to Oregon Fire Chief Bill Wilkins.
“The fire will be listed as accidental under the fire reports,” said Wilkins at a council meeting Monday. “It also lists as undetermined. Probable cause will be a wood burning stove within the barn.”
The fire, fueled by high winds, started at 12.27 a.m. in the barn at 7150 Corduroy Road. Hundreds of livestock perished in the fire, including goats, ducks, chickens, guineas, rabbits and pigeons.
A house just 30 feet from the barn was slightly damaged. Prakash Thombre, who owns the house and barn, and his family, were unharmed.
Four tractors, two vehicles, and miscellaneous farm equipment were also destroyed, according to Wilkins.
“That fire was a total loss,” said Wilkins.
Oregon Mayor Marge Brown said a reservoir was dug at the site that is 30 feet wide, 40 feet long, and 54 inches deep to bury the animals.
“The inspection department was out today. They are still finding more animals to put in that pit. It hasn’t been covered yet,” said Brown.
The health department will also inspect the scene, she said.
Some of the animals survived.
Thombre, who raises chemical and hormone free livestock and produce, sells them to area restaurants and stores.
Thombre, who once operated a biomedical firm, was featured in an article in The Press’s “Green Living” supplement last April 21 that highlighted his free roaming livestock.
“They roam around anywhere, anytime. It’s my idea of operating this way, and we don’t call it organic. We call it a natural way of life,” he said in the article. That freedom, he added, provides more natural, high quality products.
“During the winter, we don’t have any eggs because the chickens are usually trying to fight off the cold, so they build up a few feathers. They don’t lay in the winter. Then come spring, they start laying big eggs. It’s a natural way of not pumping animals with any hormones or other chemicals, and letting the natural light do its work. That way it is much healthier.” Thombre told The Press last week how the raging fire kept him from saving the animals.
“It happened so fast. I can still hear the baby goats crying for help,” he said, choking back tears. “I will forever be haunted by that.”
The fire was still smoldering by midweek.
Thombre said the fire destroyed all his animal feed. He thanked friends and neighbors for helping him and his family during this difficult time.
“We’ve had some sleepless nights,” said Thombre. “We’re hanging in there.” December fires
At council, Wilkins also noted there were other fires in Oregon last month.
“Unfortunately, through the holiday season, the department responded to several tragic incidents,” he said.
On Dec. 22, at 4:34, the department responded to a structure fire at 5344 Bay Shore Road.
“One victim was removed from the fire and was deceased,” he said.
“That fire was an accidental fire. It will be listed as undetermined. The probable cause would be smoking material at that fire,” he said.
On Dec. 24, the department responded to a report of two duck hunters who fell in the water after their canoe capsized in an area off the public boat docks off Bay Shore Road, said Wilkins.
The hunters were able to make it to a rocky island, said Wilkins.
“They were removed off the island by our personnel, and were assisted by the Jerusalem Fire Department. Both victims were transported by life squad to the hospital and were treated for hypothermia,” said Wilkins.
The response times for the fire department to get to the scene of the calls were approximately eight minutes for the fire on Dec. 22; approximately eight-and-a-half minutes on Dec. 24 for the duck hunters; and approximately nine minutes to get to the barn fire on Corduroy Road. “The fire department’s been busy,” said Council President Mike Sheehy.