Electrical failure blamed for Grove Field fire

Oct. 6 blaze caused nearly $1 million in damages

Investigators have determined that an electrical equipment failure started a fire that caused nearly $1 million in damage to hangar bays at Grove Field in Camas.

Investigators from the Clark County Fire Marshal’s office, as well as those representing insurance companies for the impacted tenants and the Port of Camas-Washougal, sifted through the remains of C-Row hanger, located at 632 N.E. 267th Ave.

According to Senior Deputy Fire Marshal Susan Anderson, all agreed that the fire started in either a power strip or the electrical outlet the strip was plugged into. Both were mounted on a heavy timber support post.

Anderson said the fire originated inside near the west end of the 20,000 square foot building and spread through 10 of the 20 rented hangar bays. The other 10 were protected by a firewall near the building’s center.

The blaze destroyed all 10 hangar bays and their contents, which included eight planes and four automobiles — one a vintage Porsche.

The two-alarm fire was reported by a neighbor at approximately 10:21 p.m. on Oct. 6 after smoke was seen coming from the area.

Responding agencies included East County Fire and Rescue, which operates a fire station adjacent to Grove Field, the Camas-Washougal Fire Department and the Vancouver Fire Department

The fire was under control within about an hour. No injuries were reported.

The airport re-opened on Oct. 8.

According to Port of Camas-Washougal Executive Director David Ripp, the C-Row hangar was constructed in the 1950s or 1960s, and the bays were not equipped with sprinkler systems.

Ripp said the port will lose rental revenue on those hangar bays due to the fire, but that money as well as the cost to clean up the site and rebuild the structure would be reimbursed by the port’s insurance company — not including a $1,000 deductible.

That effort, including the design, engineering and bidding processes, will begin soon.

“We will start that as quickly as possible,” Ripp said, adding that he expects construction to occur in late spring or early summer 2015.

Ripp said whether the new building is equipped with a sprinkler system will depend on what is required by code regulations.

Grove Field, a general aviation airport, is owned by the Port of Camas-Washougal. It includes a total of 69 hangar bays and 14 tie-downs that are leased to private pilots.

Reporter Dawn Feldhaus contributed to this article.

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