JOYCE — Midnight explosions lit the sky 10 miles west of Port Angeles last weekend when a suspected wood stove-chimney fire ignited fuel, fertilizer and other incendiary material in a shop, destroying the 3,200-square-foot building and two nearby vehicles.
No one was injured in the midnight Sunday blaze at 538 Oxenford Road, said Chief Greg Waters of Clallam County Fire District 4 of Joyce, on Tuesday.
But a man sleeping in a house 50 feet west of the shop on the property — the grandson of the property owner — awoke to the explosions and an orange glow illuminating his bedroom.
“He looked out the window, and it looked like it had instantly turned daylight, it was so bright,” the man told Waters; Waters declined to identify him.
“The shop was pretty much engulfed already.
“Flames were shooting about 50 feet above the roof line.”
A resident of 536 Oxenford Road called the fire in at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, according to the Peninsula Communications Dispatch Center call-for-service log.
District 4 and Fire District 2 firefighters had to stand by while the blaze burned, putting out hot spots to keep the flames from spreading to trees that separated the building from the house.
“Our biggest accomplishment on that was that we saved the house and the neighboring trees and everything,” Waters said.
First responders arrived at 12:17 a.m. The fire was out by 1:07 a.m.
“It was a treacherous fire to fight,” Waters recalled.
“There was lots of gasoline in there, lots of diesel oil, several propane tanks, that kept us from getting close until it burned down.
“It was made of real heavy timber, old-school construction.”
Waters said the blaze was likely started in a chimney from a wood stove in the shop.
“They leave it on most of the time to keep the dampness and mildew out,” he said.
“It’s nothing they haven’t done every day since they lived there.”
Fire District 4 responded with two fire engines, two tenders, an ambulance and a command vehicle.
Fire District 2 responded with an engine, a tender and a command vehicle after being called immediately after District 4 personnel arrived, Waters said.
Thirteen personnel from both districts were on hand.
The county road shop was on standby with heavy equipment.
At one point, firefighters thought they might need an excavator to move fallen debris so they could get at burning material, Waters said.
Acrid smoke from the burning fuel enveloped the area, he added.
A damage estimate was unavailable Tuesday.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].