Massive fire wipes out business in city of Jefferson

Massive fire wipes out business in city of Jefferson »Play Video
The structure burns Thursday morning in Jefferson. (Photo by Tabbie Coulter)

JEFFERSON, Ore. – A four-alarm fire has burned the Columbia Spas business in Jefferson, about 10 miles south of Salem.
The Jefferson Fire District says firefighters were dispatched shortly after midnight Thursday and found the building engulfed in flames.
Flames and multiple explosions threatened a nearby mobile home park, so Marion County sheriff's deputies evacuated residents to a Red Cross shelter set up at Jefferson High School. 

Before being forced to evacuate, Kent Morton found unexpected work as a firefighter as he tried to keep his mobile home from being taken over by the fire next door.

"I was hosing it down with the water hose, and it was all steaming because it was pretty hot," he said.

"It was overwhelming – strange to see it happen right next door. Something like this is just terrible," said Margaret Adams, who also lives nearby.

Adams was one of the first neighbors to return. Morton soon followed, believing the water he sprayed on his home might have made a difference.

There was no damage in the mobile home park, and the fire was controlled about 2:30 a.m. The fire did reach some power lines and knocked out power for some people, but it has since been restored.

Late in the afternoon state fire investigators and members of the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were on scene doing preliminary mapping and examination of the site. They'll meet tomorrow morning with local fire officials and then begin the process of going through the burned-out building to find out how the fire started.

The investigation could take days. One of the challenges is parts of the roof that didn't burn, collapsed into the building. That material will have to be removed piece by piece and looked at to help figure out where and how this fire started.

The fire district says the 25,000 square foot building is insured and the owners were called to the scene. The Jefferson Fire District chief said the property will be secured for an investigation but the cause is still unknown and there is nothing to indicate the fire is suspicious at this point.

School officials in Jefferson said classes were delayed two hours because of the fire but buses were running on routes that come close to the fire scene despite some street closures.