Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Blaze leaves mid-valley family homeless

Fire in Zinc Spur neighborhood is still under investigation

Express Staff Writer

Firefighters from several agencies within the Wood River Valley responded to a house fire in the Zinc Spur neighborhood. Although the fire began Sunday, firefighters were still on the scene Monday morning, as seen here. Photo by Willy Cook

A Wood River Valley family was left homeless Monday after a hard-to-fight fire burned for nearly 20 hours through their two-story, log residence.

The home of Jonathan and Katherine Nasvik, on Willow Road in the Zinc Spur neighborhood north of Hailey, was essentially destroyed by the blaze, said Bart Lassman, chief of Wood River Fire & Rescue. Lassman said about three-quarters of the house was severely burned and the rest is heavily damaged from smoke and debris.

Only one injury was sustained in the blaze, a minor injury to a firefighter who slipped while at the scene.

It is unlikely the homeowners and their two children will be able to salvage many of their belongings, Lassman said.

"It does not appear there was anything spared in the fire," he said.

Wood River Fire & Rescue crews were dispatched to fight the fire at about 4:45 p.m. Sunday. Upon arrival, firefighters found that about one-quarter of the approximately 4,000-square-foot house was ablaze, Lassman said.

With help from the Hailey, Ketchum Rural and Sun Valley fire departments, Wood River crews brought the blaze under control by about 8 p.m. Sunday, Lassman said. However, he said, because of complications presented by the construction of the house and the nature of the blaze, small pockets of flames and "hot spots" continued to burn and smolder until noon Monday, when the fire was deemed to be fully extinguished.

Lassman said the fire was difficult to fight because it quickly moved into the roof of the house, composed of large synthetic blocks of insulation attached to pieces of plywood fixed under wooden shake shingles. Because it was unsafe to station firefighters on the roof, crews were forced to "chase" the flames from awkward angles, he said.

Numerous water tenders were called in to help with the effort because Zinc Spur subdivision does not have a network of pressurized water hydrants. Lassman said one 10,000-gallon cistern nearby was quickly emptied.

The cause of the blaze has not been determined. Lassman was at the scene Tuesday morning with a deputy state fire marshal and an insurance company investigator to look for clues.

Lassman said the Nasvik family was not at home when the fire started. He said they spent the last two nights in a Hailey hotel.

"We have some thoughts about why it started but nothing is standing out at us," the chief said.

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