SVFR responds to two structure fires April 20, 21

Suspect in custody for attempted arson at Twin Lakes Store

April 21, 2022 — There have been two recent callouts for members of Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue (SVFR) and Western Lane Ambulance District (WLAD). On Thursday, Michael R Schick, Fire & EMS Chief of Western Lane Fire and EMS Authority (WLFEA), provided a recap of the emergencies.

SVFR and WLAD personnel responded at 11:40 a.m. to a structure fire on Wednesday, April 20.

“SVFR was notified of possible smoke coming from the side of a home on First Avenue in the Heceta Beach area. The first 911 call concerning smoke coming from a residence reportedly came from Driftwood Shores, which is directly across from the residence,” Schick said.

The firefighters who arrived first observed moderate amounts of smoke on the first floor of the two-story residence, with flames visible around an outlet on a wall in the family room.

“The fire was quickly extinguished with minor damage noted to an interior wall, a couch adjacent to the wall, as well as smoke damage throughout the residence,” Schick said. “Heavy rains and strong winds at the time of the fire did not hamper extinguishment efforts by fire department personnel.”

The occupants in the home at the time of the fire evacuated prior to the arrival of first responders and were not injured.

According to Schick, having someone call 911 early in the development of this fire helped keep this fire small.

The fire is currently being investigated by the SVFR Fire Investigation Team and appears to be centered around recently installed heat pumps at the home.

Additionally, a possible fire was reported to SVFR on Thursday morning at 6:40 a.m. at the Twin Lakes Store, 88940 Highway 101, north of Florence.

A citizen driving by observed a small amount of flames at the front of the store and was able to extinguish the fire. SVFR was requested to respond to confirm the fire was out.

Personnel from the first arriving fire engine determined that the fire had not extended into the store and noticed minor damage to the front of the store with evidence that the fire had been intentionally set.

An early review of video from surveillance cameras appeared to show an individual throw a bottle with flammable material — commonly called a Molotov cocktail — towards a window at the front of the store. The individual was then observed to run from the store and enter a wooded area east of Highway 101.

Several hours after the fire was reported, Oregon State Police troopers in the area observed a male on foot north of the store. His clothing matching those of the suspect as seen on the video was found in the area. The 37-year-old male was taken into custody.

The investigation of the fire is being conducted by the SVFR Fire Investigation Team, along with the Lane County Sheriff’s Office Arson Investigation Team.

SVFR provides an all-hazards emergency response to 18,585 people over 98 square miles. WLAD provides emergency medical service to 20,923 people over 564 square miles. Together, the agencies include full-time, part-time and volunteer personnel that respond to an average of 4,500 calls per year.

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