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Fire in Clark County destroys 7 businesses

The shared commercial building in a business park in Salmon Creek was fully engulfed in flames when fire crews arrived.

VANCOUVER, Wash. — A fire tore through a large industrial building in the Salmon Creek area north of Vancouver late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning and destroyed at least seven businesses, according to a news release from Clark County Fire District 6. There were no reported injuries.

Dispatch records show crews were initially called to a commercial fire at 14615 NE 13th Court at around 10:45 p.m. Tuesday. 

Employees inside the building at that address reported smoke coming from an upstairs window and heard fire alarms going off, according to the news release. They called 911 when smoke began filling the building a short time later.

Fire crews arrived to find the structure fully engulfed in flames, and took a defensive approach to keep the fire from spreading to nearby buildings. Firefighters described the fire as violent and fast-moving.

The blaze was upgraded to a two-alarm fire, meaning additional resources were called in. A total of nine fire engines, two squads, one training rig, two Battalion Chiefs and two trucks responded to the site, and firefighters from the Vancouver Fire Department and Clark Cowlitz Fire Rescue assisted.

Photos provided by the fire district show crews using ladder trucks to spray water on the fire from above. The building roof and interior walls appear to have been largely burned away, with only charred studs visible in the center of the structure. One photo shows a damaged car in the parking lot outside, hit by one of two large propane tanks that exploded and shot off like missiles.  The other tank hit and damaged a boat on the property.

The Clark County Fire Marshal's office is still investigating to determine the cause of the fire and the estimated loss, but Clark County GIS information lists the building's value at $1.8 million, according to the news release.

One business that lost a lot was Fox Sealing, owned by Tony Fox.

"What was in that shop, of course was one of our trucks and thousands of dollars in tools. Every tool we have, every shovel. I'm a paving contractor this morning without a shovel," said Fox Wednesday morning.

Another business owner, Eric Santos, lost everything. He is the owner of Super Brush Painting he established seven years ago.

"I gotta keep moving, I gotta keep going and honestly I feel bad, I’m not gonna lie, I feel bad seeing this and all my years of hard work, it’s pretty much gone," said Santos.

Both business owners were figuring out how to recover and continue serving their customers. 

"A lot of people's livelihoods were at stake with this building, so they are trying to figure out exactly what they are going to do that morning or this morning when their employees come to work and there's really not much left," said Dave Schmitke, public information officer for Clark County Fire District 6.

The 110,000 square foot building is located inside a business park off of Northeast 10th Avenue in Salmon Creek, immediately west of Interstate 5. 

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