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Worker ignites dry roof

A roofer using a propane blow torch accidentally started a fire on the roof of a small Barrington Drive house Thursday night.

“I was torching the back flaps and flames started on the other side of the house,” said Oak Harbor roofer Jeff Mann. “I didn’t see it right away. By the time I did, it was way out of control already. It was just a minute.”

When firefighters arrived at about 6 p.m., flames were shooting high from the top of the house. Oak Harbor Fire Chief Mark Soptich said firefighters made “a real good stop” on the fire by attacking it from both inside and outside. They went inside and cut holes in the ceiling to get into the attic area with water. On the roof, firefighters cut holes to help ventilate.

Three engines, a ladder truck and a support vehicle — with a total of 21 firefighters and EMTs — responded to the fire.

Soptich said he’s not sure if the house is fixable, though he guesses it probably is. “It has a full basement in it,” he said. “It’s a neat old house.”

According to Mann, the new owner of the house “just signed” the same day as the fire. “I’m glad I have insurance,” he said.

“The house is so gol’ darn dry,” Mann added, “I couldn’t have put it out if I wanted to.”

This was the third major fire in the Oak Harbor area this week. Tuesday, a kid playing with firecrackers started a large brush fire off of Swantown Road. Early Thursday morning, a fire early at in the laundry room of Whidbey Island Manor led to an evacuation from part of the nursing home.

Soptich said teams from two Whidbey General Hospital ambulances “played a large part in evacuating the wing.”

Luckily, a sprinkler system in the nursing home worked perfectly and kept the fire “in check” until firefighters arrived to completely extinguish it, Soptich said.

Nobody was injured in either fire Thursday.

You can reach News-Times reporter Jessie Stensland at jstensland@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611.

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