Unfinished home goes up in flames

An Oak Harbor home less than a month shy of completion caught fire early Wednesday morning.

The 1,767-square-foot home sustained major interior structural damage, and Ray Merrill, Oak Harbor fire marshal, said damages could exceed $75,000.

He said the cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

Peter Thompson, president of Thompson Homebuilders Inc., said this is the first time a fire has occurred at a home under construction by his company.

“It’s not uncommon in the industry,” he said, “but it’s certainly not a desired outcome for building a house.”

Thompson’s company had been building the house since the early part of July. The four-bedroom home was scheduled for completion around Nov. 20, Thompson said.

“Fortunately it was just sheetrocked,” he said. “There were no cabinets or appliance in there, no one was hurt, and there was no damage to other houses.”

Thompson said all the plumbing, heat and electrical had been installed in the house, and that the majority of work had been completed.

Now, the company must wait for its insurance company to inspect and give an estimate of damages to the home.

“I need their final report and estimate of damages,” Thompson said. “After their report’s complete, and I concur with their estimate, then I can proceed.”

He said the next step after receiving an insurance estimate will be to obtain a demolition permit to tear down the now-charred structure. Then the company can begin the process of rebuilding.

Construction workers had been working on the house the previous day.

Thompson said he learned of the fire when Anne Sanders, a friend who lives in the neighborhood, called him. She then called 911 at 5:56 a.m. to report seeing flames from the S.E. Second Court home. Oak Harbor firefighters responded in four minutes and brought the fire under control within 15 minutes. They were able to completely extinguish it within an hour.

“The guys made a good stop on the fire, but the house will be a total loss,” Merrill said.

One firefighter was injured during the response when the door of a fire vehicle slammed shut on his hand.

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