SOUTH BEACH — Three RVs were destroyed and a warehouse was threatened by a late-night fire on Friday, July 17, in South Beach.
The Newport Fire Department was called out to the fire at around 10:45 p.m., and Fire Chief Rob Murphy said the three RVs were “fully involved” in flames when firefighters arrived on the scene.
The RVs were parked side by side in a fenced storage lot located on the east side of Highway 101, just south of a warehouse that houses offices and equipment for Wave Broadband. Murphy said the warehouse was mere feet from the flames, so firefighters first turned their attention toward saving that adjacent structure.
“That was our firefighters’ initial concern, keeping it from starting the warehouse on fire,” Murphy said. “So they immediately started putting water on the building and then called for more resources.”
As more firefighters arrived on the scene, the fire department sent crews over into the storage lot where the burning RVs were, and they started putting water on the RVs themselves. “They were already completely consumed. They were already completely involved, we knew there wasn’t anybody in them, so the main concern was to keep (the fire) from spreading to the building,” Murphy said.
Murphy had high praise for the firefighters’ efforts, saying the warehouse was undamaged. “They did a real good job at getting that stopped,” he said. “It was about four feet (away), just on the other side of the fence. Not very far at all.”
It took fire crews 30 to 40 minutes to extinguish the burning RVs. All told, firefighters were on the scene for a couple of hours.
Murphy said he is not aware who first called in a report of the fire, adding, “there were several callers. It was very visible from 101.”
The fire was started by a burning candle, the chief explained. “There were people who were staying in the middle RV. They were working on fixing it up, and they were going to buy it,” he said. These people had lit a candle that evening and “the candle accidently lit either a curtain or a couch on fire,” Murphy said. “They were able to get out. Nobody was hurt. They had fallen asleep and woke up to it burning, and they got out.”
A male resident of the RV attempted to use a garden hose to put the fire out, but by the time he began putting water on the flames, “the fire had grown to the point where a garden hose wouldn’t put it out,” Murphy said. “It was an older RV, and they go up fast. The other two motorhomes on either side of it were only a couple feet away and so it started them on fire pretty quickly.”
No one was injured in the fire, so that wasn’t a concern, the chief said. “The only concern we had initially was there were several propane tanks. When you’re dealing with RVs, propane is a way of life. That was another reason the first crews kind of stayed back from it and focused on the building.”
The Newport Fire Department had around a dozen personnel who responded to the fire. “We also called in mutual aid from Central Coast Fire District in Waldport, Toledo Fire Department and Depoe Bay Fire District,” Murphy said. “We had them all come to the scene. We did put one of them on standby to run calls in Newport, (and) the other two, we put them to work.”
The chief was glad that blustery north winds from earlier in the day had subsided. “By that time it had died down, so it wasn’t a big factor, thank goodness. It was exciting for a while. Fortunately, there ended up being no damage to the warehouse.”