ONTARIO — Several firefighters with the Ontario Fire Department had gathered around a pile of burned items this afternoon and were sifting through the charred remains of possessions consumed in a small fire.
These firefighters, along with personnel from Ontario Police Department and Treasure Valley Paramedics responded to a house fire at 52 N.E. Third St., located adjacent to the Far East Chinese restaurant, at approximately 10:47 a.m., according to Terry Leighton, Ontario fire chief.
Leighton said five occupants lived in the home, though at the time the fire occurred, only three were present.
When Leighton arrived on scene at the fire, “smoke was pouring out of the front,” he said.
It is important to note that none of the occupants were injured by the fire, though according to Leighton, they were rather fortunate.
The house had no working smoke detectors installed, and the three occupants present, a child and two adults, were asleep at the time of the fire. The child just happened to wake up, see the smoke, and alert the adults, after which all three were able to escape the house.
“They were really lucky,” Leighton said during a phone interview with the Argus.
The point of origin for the fire was a plastic tote in a room near the front of the house. The actual cause of the fire remains unknown.
The Oregon Deputy Fire Marshall came into Ontario Thursday afternoon to make the final determination as to the cause of the fire.
“They typically come in as support,” Leighton said.
The single-family house suffered extensive smoke damage, though Leighton said structural damage was minimal.
Despite it “costing quite a bit to replace,” with needed sheetrock replacement, among a slew of other items, the house was not a total loss, Leighton said.
The family is currently being assisted by the Red Cross, which offers financial support for victims of house fires. It was unknown by press time about how long it might be before they were able to move back in the home.
This fire marks several that the Ontario Fire Department has already responded to since the beginning of the year, Leighton said.
It’s unknown just how busy the department will be in the coming months, but Leighton did later say that in 2018, the fire department responded to 2,300 total calls for service, including medical calls.
“We stay busy, that’s for sure,” Leighton said.
When looking specifically at fires, the department responded to 237 fires within Ontario city limits, and 81 rural fires.
While many rural fires are caused because of out-of-control controlled burns, in-city fires are caused “because of a variety of factors,” Leighton said.
Leighton’s advice off the heels of this fire?
“Make sure you have working smoking detectors,” he said.