The remains of a house on the 800 block of A St., in Vader, where a fire began the morning of Nov. 9. Investigators were able to learn the fire began in the rear of the house (pictured) but have been unable to determine an exact cause based on available evidence.
Authorities report they are unable to determine the origin of a structure fire in Vader last week that destroyed two buildings, stating too little evidence remains available to identify a cause.
Fire Investigator Ted McCarty, who works primarily with the Chehalis Fire Department, said in an interview Wednesday the official cause of the fire, which began Sunday morning on the 800 block of A St., has been labeled "Undetermined" because the remains of the house where the fire started have been too-thoroughly damaged to further his investigation.
He did state, according to interviews with witnesses, the fire appears to have started in the rear of the house before it spread and eventually destroyed a neighboring storage building to its north and threatened the Little Falls Masonic Lodge to its south.
McCarty said, according to the occupants (a 41-year-old Vader man, his 12-year-old son and a male guest described as in his early 30s), the three were asleep when the guest, who had been staying in the rear of the house, woke up to the smell of smoke and altered the others. McCarty noted there had been no active smoke detectors in the building at the time.
After being awoken, they stated, the 41-year-old broke a window in order to help the others leave the house, cutting his arm in the process. After attempting to put out the fire then fleeing to a nearby relative's house, the 41-year-old was later transported by private vehicle to Providence Centralia Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation and the cuts on his arm.
McCarty, who had interviewed the occupants on Nov. 10, said the 41-year-old stated multiple space heaters had been in use at the time of the fire and, while these could have been a cause of the fire, McCarty clarified there remains no way to definitively tell what the origin had been based on available evidence.
According to Cowlitz-Lewis Fire District 20, aid had been called to the scene at around 8:50 a.m. and, in total, around 40 firefighters responded from agencies in Vader, Ryderwood, Toledo, Winlock, Castle Rock and Napavine.
Crews remained on scene well into the afternoon dousing hot spots. One firefighter reportedly suffered a leg injury and was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital via private vehicle.