ONTARIO – A fire that erupted early Tuesday, Sept. 20, destroyed the Bargain Center in east Ontario and involved four fire departments before the blaze was extinguished.
More than 20 firefighters from Payette, Fruitland, Ontario and Vale responded to the blaze at 2:50 a.m. at 320 S.E. 1st Ave.
No one was injured in the early-morning fire.
Terry Leighton, Ontario Fire & Rescue chief, said the building was a “total loss.”
“I can’t tell you how many thousands and thousands of dollars are lost. There is just so much damage,” said Leighton.
The business is a thrift and consignment store that offers a host of products, including stationary, wireless game controllers, holiday steins, inflatable canoes, guitars, cassettes and DVDs.
The 7,768-square-foot structure was built in 1938 and has a market value of $107,730 according to the county assessor’s office. The building is owned by Moonriver, LLC of Ontario.
The owner of the business is Josh Rhew of Fruitland. The business has been in the that location since 2017, according to state records.
Leighton said the state fire marshal is on the way to Ontario to investigate the cause of the blaze. Right now, he said, firefighters don’t know where the point of origin of the fire was.
Leighton said the building did contain electric smoke detectors.
“They probably went off but by the time my staff got there was heavy, heavy smoke coming out,” said Leighton.
Leighton said there were also surveillance cameras at the business but the hard drives on the devices were damaged by the fire.
The Bargain Center fire is the second blaze in the last week in the same area of Ontario but Leighton said he did not believe the two blazes are connected.
Sept. 12, a fire ignited by an explosion in a marijuana extraction lab destroyed Guerrero’s Market at 106 S.E. 2nd St., and the Pricebuster Apartments complex above the store. The lab was in the communal bathroom of the second-floor apartment complex.
Malheur County assessor’s records show the building is owned by Michael Clason, who lists addresses in Ontario and Bend. He couldn’t be reached for comment. Built in 1946, the building is 6,000 square feet and has an assessed value of $275,000.
Sixteen people were displaced by the fire but no one was injured.
Fire crews from Weiser, Fruitland, Vale, Nyssa and Ontario responded to the blaze. About 20 firefighters worked to douse the fire.
Leighton said while the cause of the fire is known, an investigation by the Oregon State Police is still ongoing.
News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]
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