Star Island fire

A fire reduced a small building on a farm complex on Star Island to a pile of ashes Monday. The house was vacant and empty at the time of the fire and had a history of being tagged with graffiti.

ONTARIO — A vacant farm building on a complex located on Star Island south of Ontario along the Snake River was destroyed in a fire Monday.

Fire officials say the fire was started under suspicious circumstances.

At 1:47 p.m. Monday, Ontario firefighters responded to the blaze. The fire was not noticed right away and progressed before it was reported, so the building was fully engulfed by the time firefighters arrived.

The Ontario Fire Department, with mutual aid from Payette and Fruitland, fought the fire until 3:09 p.m., when firefighters were able to leave the scene.

Their efforts were hindered by high temperatures, because the firefighters were wearing full turnout gear. They had to stay hydrated and keep from overheating on the 90-degree afternoon.

Ontario Fire Chief Al Higinbotham said the property has a history of problems, including gang graffiti, and previous fire-related incidents have occurred in that area.

“Lots of gang graffiti out there. No power to it, no activity around the farm complex itself that day. We don’t know what took place,” Higinbotham said. “We’ve had other structures burn out there that had no reason to burn.”

The farm complex is made up of some small houses and a covered barn. The structure that burned possibly had been used as a combination dwelling and shed but was empty at the time of the fire.

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