PENDLETON, Ore. (AP) — A brush fire destroyed two Pendleton apartment buildings Saturday afternoon, leaving dozens of people homeless.
Apartment manager Terry Prock said 48 apartments were destroyed or heavily damaged, but all the tenants escaped unharmed.
"Everybody's out, everybody's accounted for," she told the East Oregonian newspaper (http://is.gd/Nn1Ofy).
The American Red Cross set up shelter at the Pendleton Convention Center and planned to provide displaced residents with food, lodging, clothing, comfort kits, and health and mental health services.
The blaze started just after 3 p.m., apparently in a field behind the two apartment buildings.
Matt Bowen, who lives in an apartment overlooking the blaze, said he and a roommate saw the fire start and took action.
"We were knocking on doors to get people out," he said.
Bowen said he saw people leaving the apartments coughing, but also did not witness any injuries.
Crews had the blaze extinguished before 6 p.m. Pendleton firefighters were joined by those from Pilot Rock, Stanfield, Hermiston and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.
Nearby neighbors brought garden hoses to keep the flames from spreading, and Pendleton police officers also helped fight the fire.
By Saturday evening, emergency responders were transporting those who lost their apartments to the convention center. Red Cross workers from Pendleton, La Grande and Hermiston went there to distribute food and water and help with lodging. They expected between 50 and 75 residents, though some might choose to stay with relatives.
Patti Fairbank of Outwest Catering Co. said the business is providing leftover food from a quinceañera celebration, and emptying its convention center freezer to help feed the evacuees.
Information from: East Oregonian, http://www.eastoregonian.info
Comment Now: Post Your Thoughts & Comments on This Story