Columbia River Fire & Rescue
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News Release
Columbia Hills Retirement Center Fire - St. Helens - 10/05/22

PRESS RELEASE

Contacts: 
Jennifer Motherway, Public Information Officer

Date: October 5, 2022

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Columbia Hills Retirement Center Fire – St. Helens 

On Wednesday, October 5, 2022, at 12:36 am crews were dispatched to the Columbia Hills Retirement Center on Pittsburg Road in St. Helens for a 3-alarm fire. Approximately six units of a thirty one unit complex suffered heavy fire damage and multiple apartment units had heavy smoke damage. A total of thirty one apartment units were evacuated, which ultimately displaced all the residents in each of the units. Firefighters had the fire under control within two hours of the time of the call.   

First arriving units found six heavily involved units on fire, shortly after an explosion occurred within the structure throwing fire and debris across a large area of the complex. Crews attempted to suppress the fire while conducting search and rescue. Firefighters then pulled six people out of the building; unfortunately, one of those residents succumbed to their injuries, resulting in a fatality. Several occupants were then transported to Portland area hospitals for further evaluation. One police officer and one firefighter sustained non-life- threatening injuries and were also evaluated at Portland hospitals and have since been released. 

Local and state fire investigators are on scene conducting the fire investigation. We extend thanks to the staff at Spring Meadows who managed the situation with calm efficiency, making sure the vulnerable residents were transported safely and housed for the foreseeable future. Residents are also being supported by the Red Cross.  

Crews remained on scene throughout the evening and will continue monitoring to prevent any additional fire spread as well as conducting salvage and overhaul.  

We were assisted by Scappoose Fire, Clatskanie Fire, Vernonia Fire, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, Portland Fire & Rescue, AMR, Oregon Department of Forestry, Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, Scappoose Police Department, St. Helens Police Department, Columbia River PUD, NW Natural, Columbia County Emergency Management and Columbia County Rider bus service. Several private citizens responded and offered assistance as well. 

The district is incredibly busy with the fire investigation and will not be conducting any press conferences. We will post additional press releases as we have further updates. 

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