A Roseburg furniture store in business since the 1950s on Northeast Stephens Street suffered substantial loss in a fire Sunday evening, according to the Roseburg Fire Department.
Multiple neighbors and business owners called 911 shortly after 5 p.m. to report seeing smoke coming from Kuebler’s Furniture at 1100 N.E. Stephens St., Roseburg Fire Marshal Tony DiMare said.
Fire personnel initially believed an employee was still in the building and forced entry before learning the store was unoccupied, DiMare said. Two furniture trucks and a van were towed away to save damage.
About 26 firefighters from the Roseburg Fire Department and Douglas County Fire District No. 2 responded with two engines and a ladder truck, which they used to fire large hose streams at the blaze. At one point they were pumping 7,000 gallons of water a minute for about two hours, DiMare said.
Water rushed out the store’s rear loading entrance and downhill on Chestnut Avenue, past a row of emergency vehicles and dozens of onlookers. More people gathered in front of the store on a section of Northeast Stephens Street that had been closed to traffic.
DiMare said two store employees, accompanied by a child, closed and left the store shortly before 5 p.m.
An employee who returned to the scene told firefighters that there was no sign of fire at closing time. The employee said coffee was made earlier in the day, but the coffee maker was turned off before workers left for the day.
DiMare said people first reported seeing the fire in what appears to be the store’s kitchen area.
Little remained of the building this morning.
“The walls appear to be the only thing standing,” DiMare said.
The building was constructed in the early 1950s by Robert B. Curtis of Curtis Brothers Home Furnishings. His son, Wayne Curtis, the operator of a Roseburg trucking company, said today his father relocated from downtown because he needed more room to expand.
When the store opened it featured “7,700 square feet of display space on one floor and a full basement for storage and shop facilities,” according to an undated story in The News-Review.
Curtis sold to Kuebler’s Furniture of Redding, Calif., in the late 1990s. Kuebler’s was founded by Dean Kuebler, who turned the company over to his children in 2007. Kuebler has stores in Redding, Roseburg and Salem.
Representatives of the company were driving to Roseburg this morning. The company is beginning the process of fulfilling customer orders using its other warehouses, Bill Woodford, the company’s marketing director, said today.
“We’re thinking right now it’s between $250,000 and $750,000 in inventory,” he said. “From the pictures I’m seeing, it looks pretty bad.”
DiMare said it was unknown at the time if all the contents of the building were destroyed.
“I’m guessing nothing inside is salvageable,” he said. “That’s a lot of fire and a lot of water.”
The roof eventually collapsed, but most of the building’s block walls remained upright, DiMare said.
The structure was valued at nearly $546,000, according to the Douglas County Assessor’s website.
More than 100 people watched the fire on all sides, many with their phones or cameras out.
“I don’t know who owns that store, but I’m praying for those people,” said Karla Smith, who lives nearby.
As firefighters cleared a path for a tow truck, a fire hose hit a firefighter in the leg. He was assisted to a chair and a Fire District 2 ambulance took him to Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg to be evaluated.
Israel Ortiz, who lives nearby, witnessed the accident.
“It looked like it broke his leg,” Ortiz said. “They shut the hose off and it was spinning around real fast. It was moving like a snake.”
DiMare declined to name the firefighter or the nature of his injury.
The fire knocked out power to the surrounding area, including traffic signals on Garden Valley Boulevard. Pacific Power reported to the scene to assess the situation.
George Huntington, who watched the fire from his front porch across the street, said he lost electricity about 40 minutes after firetrucks arrived.
“They had just closed for the day. It’s a shame. It’s a good business,” Huntington said.
DiMare said fire crews would be on scene for several more hours extinguishing the flames and cleaning up. The fire department was expected to start investigating the cause of the fire this morning.
The Roseburg Fire Department and Fire District 2 were assisted by the Roseburg Police Department and Avista Utilities.