Investigators Say Illegal Burn Sparked Huge Stewart-Lenox Fire

, Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Thu, September 12 2013 at 5:08 PM, Updated: Thu, September 12 2013 at 5:25 PM

Investigators say a careless outdoor burn sparked a fire that destroyed two homes, and left five people homeless...

The fire broke out shortly before 6:00 p.m. Wednesday night on Cortez Street in the Stewart-Lenox area of Klamath Falls.

Brandy Rockolt says the fire grew quickly.  "I came outside and you could just see up-roaring in the backyard."

The fire quickly spread, destroying 2 homes, at least 3 travel trailers, 2 cars, and several outbuildings.

The fire was punctuated by loud explosions...

"There was a lot of ammunition inside the first home."  Explains Fire Marshal Scott Rice of Klamath County Fire District #1.  "It was going off, and in the storage buildings."

Jim Yahne had most of his belongings stored in a shed that burned...

"I had some camping equipment, some personal belongings in a shed - but mostly what I've had to do is watch neighbors who didn't really have anything, older folks that had houses, and didn't really have much to lose everything."

Betty and Jerald Givens lost their home in the fire.

"Homeless."  States Sandy Hubbard, a relative of the Givens'.  "They're living with family.  Grandpa was released from the hospital early this morning, and they're going to be staying with family until they can get things squared away."

Investigators believe the fire may have been sparked by someone burning insulation off of copper wire, in order to sell the raw metal.

"That's what we're finding."  Notes Fire Marshal Rice.  "And we do have one statement to that effect."

Firefighters remained on scene today to mop up the fire, and put out hot spots. 

Investigators estimate the fire caused about 400 thousand dollars worth of damage.

The Keno Grill in Stewart-Lenox will be offering a portion of their sales to help families impacted by the fire.

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About the Author

Lyle Ahrens

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.

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