On November 24, 2019 at approximately 3:18 PM, Goldendale Fire Department was paged for a report of a confirmed structure fire at the “Old Mill” located at 630 Railroad Ave in Goldendale. With information about the location and the extend of the fire, support was requested from Rural 7 Fire and Centerville Fire District 5.
Due to the dangers that the abandoned mill presented with the visible collapse of parts of the building, it was determined that the initial attack would be what is known as a defensive attack. This type of firefighting limits the dangers and exposure to firefighters. The attack is initially fought from the outside. Although the facility has many fire hydrants on the property, first arriving units found the hydrants had been dry for some time, possibly since the mill was last in operation. Fire command requested for additional water tenders to mitigate the problem.
Abandoned buildings are documented as firefighters worst case scenarios. Often without power or water, the fire prevention systems found in a typical building are absent. People may use these dangerous sites as shelters. When a fire breaks out it is likely man made. The instability of what is essentially ruins, poses a danger to responders. The possibility of entrapment or collapse is very high.
“Firefighter safety is my number one concern,” said Chief Noah Halm, “Unfortunately we had one firefighter suffer from exertion. We are fortunate to have an agreement with the ambulance district to respond to structure fires. The firefighter was checked by Goldendale Medic and transported to Klickitat Valley Hospital as a precaution and later released. A second safety concern reported was the increase in traffic as a result of curiosity, which caused delays in our firefighter’s response to the fire stations and again when units responded to the scene. “
The Goldendale Fire Department, Rural 7 Fire and Centerville Fire continue to work together to achieve the best response possible. Combining training and working side by side is one of many ways the departments can provide the best fire service. We have a great working relationship with our public works departments, Klickitat PUD was able to respond quickly and assist with powerlines on the property. Many thanks to Goldendale Police Department and Klickitat County Sheriffs Office and the support of Emergency Management Dispatch.
The cause of the fire has not been determined at this time.