Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Wed, September 11 2013 at 9:12 PM, Updated: Wed, September 11 2013 at 9:21 PM
A massive fire tonight in the Stewart-Lenox area just west of Klamath Falls has destroyed two homes, and several outbuildings.
The fire broke out shortly after 6:00 p.m. on Cortez Street.
Scott Rice of Klamath County Fire District #1 says investigators still aren't sure just what sparked the fire...
"It appears it may have started in a back yard, it had a lot of wood debris, boats and stuff in the back."
Brandon McKinney was hitch hiking through the area...
"And someone picked me up, and we were driving by, and saw smoke, and he asked me: 'Do you want to stop and see what's going on?' And we saw someone pull someone out of the house, so we started helping them pull someone out of the house - and as soon as we're out, the house pretty much, two minutes later, the house was in flames."
Neighbor Darlene Kunkel says the fire spread quickly...
"I woke up and saw flames shooting out of the driveway. Then it spread to the back of the house - and then it started to the front of the house."
Firefighters say the fire has destroyed two homes, at least one camp trailer, and several outbuildings.
One of those outbuildings was owned by neighbor Jim Yahne...
"When I got here, it was spreading from the back area somewhere, and the shed was still okay - all my belongings and everything was where there's a pile of ashes now."
One person has been taken to the hospital with breathing problems. No other injuries have been reported.
KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's. He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.
Lyle's job history is quite colorful. He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand. A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer. In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.
Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience. "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain. Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".
When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.