UPDATE: Blaze causes $4 million in damage to RV outfitter
Towering flames and acrid smoke caused at least $4 million in damage to a local RV supplier on Thursday, Feb. 2, in Wood Village.
Eight RVs were destroyed at Camping World, while 16 suffered partial flame damage and another seven to eight were damaged by smoke. No injuries were reported.
Deputy Fire Marshal Duston Yacapin said an improperly-disposed cigarette was thought to be the cause of the fire.
"With the 40-mile winds, (the cigarette) carried into an area with cardboard, freight material and leaves that had been blown around," he said in a phone interview. "It smoldered for a while. People were smelling the burning, but they said that's kind of normal, because there are welders in the area,"
The fire started in a green metal shed — known informally by workers as "the tunnel" — then spread outward to the north and south sides of the building. Smoke also damaged the sales area.
Eleven engines and three trucks from Gresham and Portland Fire departments responded to the blaze, which was first reported at 2:58 p.m. A second alarm was issued seven minutes later.
Three of the first responders on the scene were engulfed in "a fireball," Yacapin said, after the release valve on a propane tank popped off. Thankfully, the firefighters were unharmed.
Police briefly blocked off the westbound lanes of Interstate 84, which borders Camping World, due to thick smoke.
"People look at the fire and not where they're going," explained Battalion Chief Jason McGowan during an interview at the scene. "The wind is pushing the fire, and it's pushing it at 40 miles an hour."
The fire caused a natural gas leak inside the building, but a crew from NW Natural Gas responded and contained the leak. The fire was brought under control by 3:45 p.m.
"(Employees) were trying to put out the fire with fire extinguishers," said Nikki Cox, who was shopping at a nearby Walmart Supercenter when the burn erupted. "When I called 911, they told me to tell them to stop."
"Another trailer was going by, (hauled) by a forklift. It caught fire too," the 39-year-old mom said.
Yacapin said it's unclear whether an employee or a customer lit the cigarette that started the blaze. Employees are required to smoke only in designated areas.
"Anytime someone goes outside, they see it as a time they can smoke," Yacapin warned. "But use proper containers to extinguish cigarettes, (especially) in high winds."
Camping World is located at 24000 N.E. Sandy Blvd, not far from where the street deadends. On Thursday, burn marks were visible on both the south exterior, facing I-84, and on the building's storefront, which faces Sandy.
The company has more than 120 retail and service locations across 36 states.