BLAST FROM THE PAST: Arson guts former boarding house

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Photo by ANNETTE GRIFFUS/ Officials blmae arson for a fire which ravaged the former Pat's Boarding House in Kellogg. The roof, which was hit the hardest, caved in during the blaze.

EDITOR’S NOTE: BLAST FROM THE PAST is a weekly article where we turn back the clock and see what was on the front page of our local newspapers years ago.

This unchanged article ran on the front page of the June 5, 1998, edition of the Shoshone News-Press. If you remember this story, or other BLAST FROM THE PAST articles, let us know by writing us or commenting online.

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Staff Writer

KELLOGG – A fire which engulfed a two-story Kellogg building early Thursday morning has been ruled as arson.

Shoshone County District II fire crews responded to the former boarding house, located at 212 Ohio Street, at 2:26 a.m. and found flames pouring from four second-story windows.

Crews battled the flames from outside the building because of safety concerns until the fire was extinguished. Once crews were able to go inside, they ruled out electrical and other problems.”It is definitely an arson-caused fire,” said Shoshone County District II Fire Chief Dale Costa.

Crews from the Kellogg, Pinehurst and Doyle Road, Cataldo, areas worked to control the blaze well into the morning.

“We did find some evidence (of arson) and we are looking closely into it,” Costa added.

The fire is being investigated by the Shoshone County Arson Task Force. The task force is a combined unit of Shoshone County Fire District II, Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office and the Idaho State Fire Marshal’s Office.

An arson sniffing doing from the Post Falls Fire Department was brought to the scene by the ISFM. The task force is still investigating the areas within the building that the dog identified as suspicious, Costa said.

Investigators said the fires started in the southwest corner of the building, but have not determined the exact cause. Fire district officials were unable to contact the building’s owner, Brenda Anderson of Oceanside, Cali., by Thursday Afternoon.

There have been frequent reports of local and out-of-town transients as well as minors staying in the building. Shoshone County officials have tried for several years to get the owners to secure the building, but with no success, said Costa.

“Within a day or two, kids would tear off the windows,” he added. “Who could see them back here? It’s been an ongoing problem for years.”

The fire was well underway when Costa, two fire trucks and 22 firefighters arrived. To contain the fire, crews used master streams and the snorkel around the perimeter of the building, he said.

Firefighters took a defensive position and did not enter the building until the fire was out because of the structure’s age and condition. A department policy bans firefighters from entering buildings that could put them in jeopardy, Costa said.

“I’m not getting any of my people hurt in a building like this,” he added. “We took complete defensive action on the fire and fought it basically from the outside until such a time that the fire was knocked down and we were able to examine the structure.”

Costa said the firefighters worked very well together as a team.

“The guys did a super job...that’s probably why there’s so much of the building left.”

Initially, the closeness of nearby buildings and power lines caused concern because of the increased danger and potential for the fire spreading. After speaking with Washington Water Power crews called to the scene, officials determined there was little danger and it was unnecessary to turn off power.

If they had to shut off the line, it would have cut off power to a portion of the city’s business district.

Costa will speak with Kellogg City Council members to determine what action will be taken regarding the fire. In addition, the fire chief said the task force will interview witnesses over the next few days.

The owner also will be notified and Costa plans to ask them to visit the site and get it reboarded.

“We can’t leave it like that,” he said.

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