Fire burns historic home

INDEPENDENCE — Firefighters responded to a fire at the Historic Cooper-Walker House, 224 N. Third St., at 2:43 a.m. on Thursday.    Smoke was visible upon arrival of initial firefighters from Polk County Fire District No. 1. The occupant of the house was using a garden hose to help control the fire from outside the building when firefighters arrived.    “The fire was in the wall,” said Neal Olson, Polk No. 1 division chief. “The house was built in 1908 or 1909, so the fire went straight up from the first floor all the way up and through into the attic space.”    Crews battled the fire from inside the structure, outside and by cutting open the roof.    Second and third alarms were called, with firefighters from Dallas, Southwest Polk and Salem responding.    Crews of 40 firefighters worked for about two hours to fully locate and control the fire. Thirteen vehicles responded. There were no injuries.    Working fire alarms in the house did not go off until after firefighters arrived, Olson said. This was because the fire was contained in the wall, so there wasn’t enough smoke to set them off.    “They were awake,” Olson said of the house’s occupants. “If they had been asleep, it would have been a completely different story.”    The Marion Polk Fire Investigative Team, as well as investigators from Woodburn, Silverton and the State Fire Marshall, were unable to pinpoint the cause of the fire, Olson said.    No estimate of property loss was available. The owners of the home did have insurance.    

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