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Nov-30-2007 06:29printcomments

Canby House Fire Triggers Explosions; Firefighter Injured

The injured firefighter was transported to Meridian Park Hospital, where she was later released with minor injuries.

canby house fire
Photo courtesy: Canby Fire Department

(CANBY, Ore. ) - At 12:26 AM on Thursday, Canby Firefighters responded to a house fire located at 12777 S. Union Hall Rd. Upon arrival firefighters found a home fully involved in fire.

The home was located on an 18 acre rural home-site, which had a very long, very narrow, and very dark driveway that looked much like others driveways.

Firefighters had to literally guess as to which driveway may lead them to the burning home, and fortunately they chose the correct driveway the first time. Firefighters were forced to park their fire engine about 200 feet from the home and deployed an exterior defensive attack.

At 1:09 AM, 23 minutes after firefighters initially started fire-ground operations, a massive explosion rocked the fire scene. Within seconds firefighters heard the ominous words over their radios, "Firefighter Down."

Firefighter Raina Eshleman had suffered and injury, and her fellow firefighters, John Footman and Andrew Gordian rushed to her aid, and quickly removed her from the hazard area.

Raina was then transported to Meridian Park Hospital, where she was later released with minor injuries.

"We are very fortunate, this was a very large blast, with lots of debris being blown as far as 100 feet from the initial explosion area," said Fire Chief Ted Kunze. "There is nothing more emotional for an incident commander to experience than a firefighter down situation."

Raina was treated and released from the hospital and is resting at home with her family.

As the firefighting efforts were winding down, firefighters encounterd several small scale explosions from the homes smoldering remains. Firefighters decided to let the fire burn itself out, rather than take any risks with continued overhaul operations.

At 12:30 PM fire investigators were surprised when another large explosion occurred. Investigators moved out of the immediate area, and within 20 minutes, yet another large explosion occurred.

After the third explosion fire investigators established an isolation zone, and called for assistance from the Oregon State Police Bomb Squad. The Bomb Squad surveyed the immediate area and confirmed that an isolation zone needed to be established until the fire and smoldering had stopped. They also believe that the latter two explosions were likely caused from butane or white gas stove tanks stored in the basement, however, this suspicion must be confirmed.

The explosion that injured firefighter Eshleman occurred on the side of the home, and the water heater or the pressure tank appear to be the most likely cause of the explosion.

Fire investigators will evaluate the situation Friday morning, and if declared safe, will conduct a cause and origin investigation as well as an investigation of the three explosions.

The home is considered a total loss, and its pre-value was estimated at $500,000.00. In total, 19 firefighters from Canby Fire and Clackamas Fire battled the blaze.

Source: Canby Fire Department

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