Updated Aug. 21, 2021 with supplemental information and photo by Mark Brennan/Siuslaw News
Aug. 18, 2021 — Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue (SVFR) and Western Lane Ambulance District (WLAD) were notified of a structure fire at 1:28 a.m. Wednesday morning in the area of Highway 101 and Rhododendron Drive. Florence Police Officers soon reported an updated location as the Dairy Queen restaurant at 125 Highway 101.
A WLAD ambulance crew first on scene reported flames coming from the roof of the building and a second alarm was immediately requested.
“The fire was very advanced upon our arrival, and we went to a defensive fire position immediately,” reported Fire/EMS Chief Michael Schick.
Two fire engines, one water tender, a rescue truck, a ladder truck and two ambulances responded to the fire. Responding personnel included 14 firefighters from SVFR and four WLAD personnel. Also assisting were the Reedsport Fire Department, Central Lincoln PUD, City of Florence Public Works and Florence Police Officers. Florence Public Works personnel were requested to help mitigate the large amount of water runoff as a result of firefighting activity.
With fire extending to the roof, it was deemed to be too dangerous to put crews inside the building, so firefighters attacked the fire from the exterior.
The fire was declared out at approximately 3:30 a.m. The interior of the restaurant received extensive damage from the fire and is considered to be a total loss.
No one was in the restaurant at the time of the fire, with cleaning crews reported to have left the building approximately one hour prior to the fire. No emergency personnel reported any injuries on scene.
Janey Turner was a guest at the Lighthouse Inn located just north of the location of the fire and witnessed the fire and emergency response.
“It was a huge explosion, which woke us up,” she said. “We came outside and there was a big burst of fire and smoke that just exploded into the sky. There was a lot of noise and it was really scary to watch. I wasn’t sure if we were going to be safe, but the fire department got here really quick.”
The investigation into the cause of the fire is underway and is being led by SVFR Fire Marshal Tony Miller, who has been at the scene on multiple occasions since the initial early morning call reporting the blaze.
SVFR maintained a cordon around the restaurant property for much of the day on Wednesday, releasing the scene for clean-up to begin after insuring the fire was completely out. Repair crews worked on the scene Thursday to clean the debris and burnt materials which littered the restaurant parking lot.
Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue provides an all-hazards emergency response to 14,000 people over 98 square miles. Western Lane Ambulance District provides emergency medical service (EMS) to 17,500 people over 564 square miles. Together, the agencies include full-time, part-time and volunteer personnel that respond to an average of 3,800 calls per year. On Oct. 1, 2019, the administrative offices of Siuslaw Valley Fire/Rescue and Western Lane Ambulance District combined to form Western Lane Fire and EMS Authority.