A fire tore through a row of hangars at Grove Field (1W1) in Camas, Wash., Oct. 6, destroying several airplanes and vintage automobiles.
When firefighters arrived at the airport — which is about 20 miles northeast of Portland, Ore. — at 10:24 p.m., they found the hangar doors and roofs had been blown off by explosions and flames were shooting 40 to 50 feet into the sky.
“When we arrived at least six or seven hangars were burning,” he said. A second alarm was called and additional firefighters were called in from the Vancouver and Camas-Washougal fire departments.
Until the fire, the airport had 79 hangars — and there was a waiting list for those. The hangars are arranged in rows of three. The hangar that burned was the center structure in the first row closest to the runway.
“When we arrived what was lost in the fire was already lost,” said Koehler. “So our plan of attack was ‘surround and drown’ to keep the fire from spreading to the adjacent hangars.”
The hangars, built in the 1960s, consist of a concrete pad with wooden frames and metal siding on top. Each hangar is divided by partitions, which do not extend to the ceiling.
“The heat and smoke crawled along the ceilings and the fire spread,” said Koehler. “The challenge was keeping it from spreading to the other hangars.”
“There was no fire suppression system in the hangars, nor was there one required at the time the hangar was built,” said Susan Anderson, Clark County Deputy Fire Marshal.
The good news, say airport officials, is that no one was hurt by the fast-moving blaze.
Pilots based at the airport note the lost airplanes include two Cherokee 180s, a Cessna 140, a Cessna 180, a Beechcraft Bonanza, a Cessna 182, a Piper Tri-Pacer, and a Vans RV-6.
Several vintage cars were also destroyed.
“Most of what was in the hangars just melted because the fire was so hot,” said David Ripp, executive director of the Port of Camas-Washougal. “The Port allows the storage of vintage cars in the hangars. We have a very popular event in the summer known as Wings and Wheels that showcases vintage aircraft and automobiles. This year we had lots of people attend the event. Grove Field is what we call a family friendly airport and we are very proud of that.”
The post-fire investigation did impact airport operations. Part of a taxiway was closed for a few days to allow the investigation to take place. In addition, the airport was closed at night because the power to the runway lights and beacon had to be turned off because of the fire investigation.
The Port plans to replace the destroyed hangars, officials added.
For more information: PortCW.com