Steve and Lisa Richardson sorted through the remains Thursday of a Wednesday night fire that heavily damaged their North Bend home.
Lisa Richardson was unsure how much could be salvaged, but she didn’t expect to find much on the second floor, where the worst of the damage was.
“The upper level had our master bedroom, my home office; all of that’s a total loss,” she said. “The main floor had the kids’ bedroom, and we’re able to probably salvage most of their belongings in their bedroom. The furnishings in the living area are not as damaged, but we’ll still have some smoke damage.”
Another priority on Thursday was making arrangements for a temporary home. She, her husband and their 10-year-old twin boys stayed with friends Wednesday night after quickly leaving their home of 20 years and calling the fire department when they saw smoke.
Everyone escaped unharmed.
“We were at home watching television,” she said. “I was in the living room with the kids, my husband was watching television in the kitchen. The lights flickered a little bit, we heard some buzzing noise, and then the TV in the kitchen went out.
“We thought maybe we had blown a fuse,” she continued. “My husband checked the fuse box and tried to correct that a couple times. When they didn’t stay on, we came up. By that time, as we were coming around the kitchen, there was smoke coming from the upstairs, from the attic area.
“We did have smoke detectors,” she said. “Unfortunately the batteries were not working. It was a matter of four or five minutes from the time we noticed the flicker to the time we saw the smoke. Unfortunately the smoke detectors weren’t working, but everybody was on alert at that point anyway.”
North Bend Fire Chief Kevin Dubbs said his department was called to the home at 641 E. Ninth St. shortly after 8 p.m.
“On arrival we had visible flames coming from the back of the house under the eaves and smoke coming from the eaves…over the back door area,” Dubbs said.
Mutual aid was initially summoned from the Morse Bluff Fire Department. Fremont Rural and Schuyler firefighters were added to the alarm as the battle continued. Dubbs said manpower, reaching approximately 35 to 40 firefighters at one point, was important in the cold weather and to keep crews fresh.
“North Bend and Morse Bluff made a joint entry,” he said. “Fire was found upstairs in the attic area above the ceiling. They started, and then Fremont Rural came in as the next-in fresh team. They went in and started pulling ceiling and extinguished the fire.”
Firefighters and an investigator from the State Fire Marshal’s Office remained on the scene until about 12:30 a.m.
Dubbs said the cause of the fire was traced to wiring in the wall near the back door.
“It worked up the wall into the eaves of the house,” he explained. “The attic is all open and it started burning there. They have an exhaust fan in the roof around the chimney area, and fire always travels the path of least resistance, so it traveled up the rafters in the attic to that exit where it started venting itself out.”
Officials did not have a dollar estimate for damage, but Dubbs said the upper story of the house was “pretty damaged” and the main floor suffered water damage.
Since then, Lisa Richardson said she has been overwhelmed by the concern and support the residents of North Bend have shown.
“In a community like North Bend, and with my husband being a teacher at the junior/senior high, everybody knows us,” she said. “It’s just amazed me from last night to this morning, the general outpouring of offers for (help). At this point, we don’t know what we need yet.
“Personally, for myself, my biggest difficulty is asking for help,” she said. “Our family’s pretty independent mostly, so it’s humbling to see the outpouring of help, and just realizing that people want to help and we need to let them.”