Fire burned through the upstairs of a very large older home at 363 NE 4th Sunday morning, just a block west of Newport High School. Occupants of the home were awakened by the smell of smoke. One of them followed the scent upstairs and when he opened the door, billows black smoke poured out. He slammed the door, raced downstairs and called 9-1-1. Then both occupants grabbed raincoats and ran outside.
Newport Firefighters came on scene quickly, ascertaining it was an upper level fire and brought in their ladder truck. Hovering over the burning building they punched a hole in the roof and sprayed water down onto the fire while other firefighters sprayed water through window openings.
Reports say that a good number of family and friends were sleeping in the house just four hours earlier. But they had gotten up, geared up and headed out on a hunting trip, leaving the two family members behind.
Assistant Fire Chief Rob Murphy says the fire was likely caused by an electrical problem in the upstairs. He said the house is around 100 years old and has been added on to and modified many times making for small crawls spaces, double walls and other conditions that made fighting the fire very difficult.
The home belongs to long time Newport resident Vern Passmore who was out with the hunting party. He returned with family and friends to survey the damage, which was very extensive. Fire and water damage throughout the house.