Douglas County Fire District No. 2 firefighters responded to reported structure fire early Wednesday morning. The call was received at 0722 hrs. for a reported barn on fire at 577 Mode Rd. in Umpqua. First arriving firefighters arrived to find the barn fully involved and mostly collapsed. Firefighters determined that there was no threat to other buildings and that the building was a total loss upon arrival. Firefighters met with the homeowners and determined that the best option would be to let the building continue to burn. Battalion Chief Roger Johnson said, “In some situations there is less damage to the environment and less clean up expense for the home owner if the building is allowed to burn.”
The home owners, Michael and Shelley Wetherell discovered the fire shortly before calling 911. When they noticed the fire they ran to the barn and attempted to rescue some sheep that were being kept inside. Approximately 12 Ewes and 12-16 lambs were in the barn and are believed to have died in the fire. The Wetherell’s did manage to get a tractor out of the barn before the flames became too intense.
The fire appeared to have originated in the center of the barn near where the animals were located. A heat lamp was in use to keep the lambs warm during the cold nights. Fire investigators met with the homeowners and viewed the fire today, but due to the extensive damage were unable to pinpoint the cause of the fire. The barn was approximately 3600 square feet in size and had a 900 square foot loft area.
Fire officials urge caution when using heat lamps to keep animals warm. Battalion Chief Roger Johnson said, “Heat lamps can be very dangerous if flammable materials are too close to the lamp”. Officials also recommend people follow recommendations from the manufacturer for bulb sizing and distance from flammables. Heat lamps should be secured in a safe location that prevents overheating or lamps from falling into combustible material.