A late Monday evening blaze that firefighters said appeared to begin on the exterior of the building destroyed a home on West U.S. Highway 101 when the residents were not home. (Clallam County Fire District 2)

A late Monday evening blaze that firefighters said appeared to begin on the exterior of the building destroyed a home on West U.S. Highway 101 when the residents were not home. (Clallam County Fire District 2)

House burns near Port Angeles airport

Clallam County Sheriff’s Office investigating blaze

PORT ANGELES — A renter who left his home for 20 minutes returned to a house on fire.

No one was injured in the blaze in the 2100 block of West U.S. Highway 101 just south of William R. Fairchild International Airport, reported at 10:20 p.m. Monday, Jake Patterson, Clallam County Fire District 2 fire chief, said Tuesday morning.

A firefighter received minor injuries after being struck in the face and cut with a hose coupling during cleanup operations that ended at 1:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Patterson said the blaze was extinguished in about 20 minutes, but the structure was destroyed.

The house and land are valued at $100,367, according to county Assessor’s Office records.

The renter, who reported the fire, did not require help in finding shelter.

The blaze started on the exterior of the building and crept up to the attic before burning the entire roof, Patterson said.

He said a cause had not been determined and there was no immediate evidence of arson.

An investigation is being conducted by the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office.

“At this point, it’s suspicious at best,” said Brian King, sheriff’s office chief criminal deputy.

“We are looking for an arson investigator to take a look at that for us.”

King said cigarette butts were found on the ground near the house.

In addition, the renter said the structure has a history of electrical wiring issues.

“By looking at it, it is in some disrepair,” King said.

“The palette is wide open on what caused it, so we don’t want to assume anything.

“The possibilities are endless on how it started.”

In a press release mid-day Tuesday, Patterson said the renter noticed a glow inside the house when returning to the residence and, after opening the door, saw flames near the back of the structure.

Three fire engines, one ambulance, three command vehicles and 17 personnel arrived at the blaze from Fire District 2. The Port Angeles Fire Department responded with one fire engine and four personnel.

“The initial arriving fire engine noted a large amount of fire coming from the rear of the structure, mainly from the attic space,” the press release said.

“Initial investigation shows the fire likely started on the exterior of the residence by a back door. The occupant said there was no known source of ignition and the back door had not been in use and was sealed shut.”

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected] peninsuladailynews.com.

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