Linseed oil and rags were the cause of the Lakeview Ranger District Compound that broke out on Thursday, July 25.
According to Deputy State Fire Marshall Scott Rice, Linseed oil, a chemical extracted from flax seed used as a preservative for wood, concrete and is used as an ingredient in paints, varnish and stains.
“The oil was on the rags and they were left in the corner of the building and they eventually combusted and ignited,” Rice said. “Normally they’re supposed to go into a bucket of water, until they can be properly cleaned.”
Rice commended the fire crews for protecting the main floor of the building and said there was a lot of damage on the second floor and in the attic. He estimated $1.2 million in loss.
Forest Service public affairs officer Tamara Schmidt said that Monday a structural assessment of the building was being done, as well as a safety assessment. Additional staff is being brought in from out of the area to help with both assessments.
“We are also doing a report for the State Historic Preservations office, as the building had been around since 1937,” Schmidt said.
The Fire Department commended Forest Service employees who were staying in the building for putting in the initial call on Thursday evening and holding the fire lines as best they could with fire extinguishers until fire crews arrived. The fire was put out late Thursday night into the wee hours of Friday morning, July 26. Nobody was injured in the blast and the employees that were staying in the building were relocated to a local hotel.
There is still some structure left and employees and other personnel are working hard to see what all was in the building and what was lost.
For more information, contact Schmidt at 541-947-6243.