Port Angeles fire guts empty city-owned building
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Arwyn Rice/Peninsula Daily News
Port Angeles Fire Department firefighters work to extinguish a building fire at 503 S. Valley St.

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — A fire that destroyed a vacant city-owned building along South Valley Street on Monday afternoon has been deemed accidental and likely caused by transients, the city's fire chief said Tuesday.

Fire crews from the Port Angeles Fire Department and Clallam County Fire District No. 2 were called to 503 S. Valley St. at about 4:30 p.m. Monday to the report of a fire at a vacant residence, city Fire Chief Ken Dubuc said.

Firefighters arrived to find a shed attached to the single-story house engulfed in flames, with the fire threatening the roof and interior of the house, Dubuc said.

Fire crews extinguished it within five to 10 minutes before it reached the main house, Dubuc said.

The shed was destroyed, while the house suffered water and smoke damage, he added.

No other homes along Valley Street were in danger, Dubuc said, and no one was found in the shed or attached house.

“There's nothing to show it was anything other than an accident,” Dubuc said, adding later that “it was most likely caused by transients.”

Police have responded to the boarded-up house in the past after receiving reports of people living there illegally, Deputy Police Chief Brian Smith said.

“An abandoned house creates an attraction that creates problems for [the Police Department],” Smith said.

“It's hard for us to keep people of out those places, and there's a host of problems associated with them.”

History of property

Craig Fulton, the city's public works and utilities director, confirmed Tuesday that the city had bought the property with the intent of demolishing the house and restoring a stretch of Valley Creek that runs adjacent to the property.

The city closed the sale on the property in March 2006 for $87,500, according to the Clallam County Assessor's Office.

Fulton said the city had used state-grant funds to help buy and demolish another house along Valley Street as part of creek restoration efforts.

The property at 503 S. Valley St. eventually will be part of the larger creek restoration work, dependent on the availability of grant funding, Fulton explained.

The city Fire Department responded with two engines, one medic unit and one utility truck, Dubuc said, totaling 10 personnel, while Fire District No. 2 came with one engine carrying four firefighters.

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: November 05. 2013 7:15PM
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