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Resident discovers her home ablaze.

Byline: Susan Palmer The Register-Guard

SPRINGFIELD - Alyssa Donkel was home watching "The Bold and the Beautiful" on television when she noticed an odd low cloud outside her window and discovered that her E Street duplex was on fire Tuesday afternoon.

Donkel was in her bedroom and soon realized the cloud was smoke. She went searching for the source and found it when she opened the back door of the duplex: The south wall - her 13-year-old daughter's bedroom wall - was burning.

"The whole side of the bedroom was engulfed in flames," she said.

Donkel grabbed her dog, Bridgette, scooped up her health medication, called 911 and got out. Her daughter was staying at a friend's house. The other side of the duplex, on the 5500 block of E Street, was unoccupied.

Firefighters arrived about three minutes after she called around 12:45 p.m., but by then smoke was pouring from the eaves and the fire had moved into the attic, Springfield Fire Department spokesman Mark Walker said.

"We got the fire knocked down quickly," Walker said. It was under control within about 15 minutes, except for stubborn areas in the attic, he said. Fire crews spent most of the afternoon digging out smoldering pockets, he said.

One firefighter was injured while working to suppress the blaze. He was taken to McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center, where he was treated and released. Walker declined to identify the firefighter or describe how he was hurt, citing federal confidentiality regulations. The firefighter apparently suffered a back injury in a fall from a ladder.

The number of injuries suffered by Springfield firefighters on the job wasn't available on Tuesday, but Walker said he recalled two minor incidents in the past year.

The cause of the blaze is still under investigation, and firefighters believe it started outside the structure, Walker said. They don't suspect arson at this point, he said.

The east side of the duplex was heavily damaged by fire, smoke and water; the west side sustained less damage, Walker said.

Donkel said she was shaken but grateful that most of her family's possessions are in storage and that she was home when the fire started. The family recently moved out of a single-family home and has been looking for a larger place to rent, she said. "We didn't have a lot of personal belongings, just beds and clothes and medicine," she said.


A Springfield firefighter gains access to the attic of the duplex on the 5500 block of E Street after the fire spread from an outside wall Tuesday. A woman living in the duplex saw smoke billowing outside a window while she was watching television. She retrieved her dog, called 911 and got out.
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Title Annotation:Fires; A fire in an E Street duplex apparently starts on an outside wall, and an alert resident gets her dog and herself to safety
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Aug 4, 2004
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