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Aug-13-2006 23:11printcommentsVideo

Fire Rages Through Salem Furniture Store (VIDEO)

Investigators still don't know what caused the building to erupt into flames, it is only one strange and potentially violent occurence in the capitol city Thursday.

Fire scene
Photo above by Kevin Montgomery
All inset photos by: Bill Holmstrom / Salem Fire

(SALEM ) - A four-alarm fire at the Salem, Oregon McMahan’s Furniture store was an intense experience for firefighters Thursday, and a battle that could not be won.

It was an end for a Salem landmark, one that was on the process of closing down. The early building was considered by many to be in its last stages, with costly asbestos removal only part of the problem posed by the building’s advanced age.

Two firefighters were injured as the intense flames made for a long day. It was a sight that was hard to miss from anywhere in Oregon’s capitol city.

Salem Fire Spokesman Bill Holmstrom says that on this kind of fire, major thought goes into protecting neighboring businesses,

Many are also very old, so Holmstrom says it is important for firefighters to keep the flames moving in a safe direction, "It is very important ir order to keep it from getting too close to the neighboring businesses."

Firefighters kept up their fight as people gathered to see something they have long been familiar with in its last moments of existence. Witnesses in the area talked about the intense heat that radiated from fire in the burning multi-level store.

Always aggressive when it is an option, Holmstrom says firefighters also know their limits, "There was just too much fire. We had to pull back and go into defensive mode."

So crews set in for the long haul, maintaining positions all around McMahan’s Furniture. Fire investigators say it is too soon to know what caused the fire. It is reported that two employees were inside when fire crews arrived. Others report hearing what sounded like a series of explosions before the fire started.

It has been a bizarre day in the world with the arrests of 21 alleged terrorists in the UK, and Salem, Oregon has been the scene of three separate bomb squad deployments today also.

A fourth incident was reported Thursday night at the Tyco factory in Dallas, Oregon.

Each of the explosive devices found in Salem appear to be actual bombs, and speculation hints at the furniture store having possibly been the scene of an explosion also.

But investigators will only say that it is too soon to tell, as the fire is still burning at the time of this report. Holmstrom says people should expect the investigation into the fire to be long and involved.

He credits Salem firefighters for the job they did today, keeping injuries to a minimum while having success in their efforts to protect surrounding businesses.

WATCH THE VIDEO REPORT BELOW BY SALEM-NEWS.COM'S TIM KING (Live digital no longer exists) This story was originally published August 11th, 2006. To order a DVD of this report, contact is at:


Comments are Closed on this story.

Tim King August 13, 2006 2:23 pm (Pacific time)

Thanks Brandon, it's that darned embedded video thing. McMahan's really was some blaze and the Salem Fire teams are awesome. Glen has a really good before and after image, that is on the front page at the time of this post.

Brandon M August 13, 2006 2:17 pm (Pacific time)

Oops a small typo on the video, it says "McMahon's" instead of "McMahan's" but its not biggy. I went to the fire a second time with my camera during the evening when it was pretty much non-existance and saw ALOT of water just flooding down the stairs, they really did a good job keeping the monster tamed.

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