Rock in boy’s bedroom prompts probe

North Idaho Drilling has permit suspended, pending L&I report

Camas-Washougal Fire Marshal Ron Schumacher measured a 6- to 8-inch rock that was blasted from a Lookout Ridge area blasting site and fell through a townhouse roof. The Fire Marshal's Office suspended North Idaho Drilling Inc.'s blasting permit after the 12- to 15 pound rock landed in a child's bedroom. There were no injuries. (Contributed photo courtesy of Ron Schumacher)

After a drilling company working in Washougal allegedly blasted a rock through the ceiling of a child’s bedroom earlier this month, the Camas-Washougal Fire Marshal’s office has filed a complaint with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I).

The state is now investigating the incident, and North Idaho Drilling Inc.’s blasting permit has been suspended until the fire marshal reviews the L&I report.

“It will be up to our office as to whether or not North Idaho Drilling can resume blasting on this project,” Camas-Washougal Fire Marshal Ron Schumacher said.

The investigation will focus on what happened Jan. 16, at an apartment complex near Washougal’s Lookout Ridge.

The Lookout at the Ridge apartments are near the site where North Idaho Drilling, a sub-contractor for Battle Ground-based Tapani Inc., has been blasting for a nearby subdivision since September 2018.

Joel Schlosser and his 9-year-old son, Brody, were home around 12:50 p.m., Jan. 16, when a rock burst through Brody’s bedroom ceiling and landed on his floor.

Luckily, Brody wasn’t in his bedroom at the time. Instead, he was working on his spelling homework on the home’s main level, when the rock damage occurred. Schlosser said it took them 15 minutes to realize what had happened.

He, his wife, Amy, and Brody, moved to the Lookout at the Ridge complex in August 2018.

“We felt like, shortly after we moved in, the blasting started and hasn’t stopped since,” Schlosser said. “We kind of had gotten used to the loud blasts.”

But the noise on Jan. 16 was different.

“This one was definitely the loudest,” Schlosser said. “It sounded almost like gravel was raining down on us.”

Schlosser ran to the back patio, but did not see any debris. Brody went upstairs to his room around 1:10 p.m., and noticed one of the family’s dogs was chewing on drywall.

Schlosser contacted the complex’s maintenance staff, and they helped him clean up the bedroom and patched the roof.

The Washougal father said the incident startled him, especially considering where the rock landed in his home.

“It’s pretty scary, because it did happen in a high-traffic area where (Brody) is a lot, playing with different toys,” Schlosser said. “It looked like it bounced off of the floor, because it left a huge dent and the carpet was ripped up. It hit his laundry basket and burned through his laundry basket, so it came in hot. It was one wild day.”

Camas-Washougal Deputy Fire Marshal Randy Miller called L&I about the incident, on Jan. 17, after media contacted the fire marshal’s office. Miller shut the blasting site down that day, and North Idaho Drilling was not allowed to conduct any blasting.

Miller said North Idaho Drilling had been using two, 6,000-pound blast mats made up of old truck tires chained together with cables, to catch flying debris from the blasting site.

“The rock blew through the (blast) mat,” Miller said regarding the Jan. 16 incident.

A North Idaho Drilling representative said she had no comment.

Washougal Building Manager Joseph Layman brought the rock from the Schlossers’ home to Washougal City Hall, and measured it at 6- to 8-inches wide.

Lookout Ridge Phase 6 subdivision developer, Nathan Machiela, plans to divide 14.8 acres into 43 single-family residential lots.

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