Coffee maker likely cause of apartment fire that left 13 people without homes

A fire at the Oakwood Manor apartments displaced 13 people, but no one was hurt. Photo by Ellen Meny.

EUGENE, Ore. - An apartment fire in Eugene on Tuesday left 6 apartments destroyed and 13 people without homes.

Eugene-Springfield Fire arrived on scene early Tuesday morning to fight the blaze, as Oakwood Manor residents woke up to roaring flames and heavy smoke.

No one was injured in the fire, but the damage to the apartments is severe.

Eugene-Springfield Assistant Fire Marshal Amy Linder says it was an accidental fire, with the most-likely ignition source being a coffee maker.

However, Linder says the specifics on why that happened is more complicated.

She told us the department isn't able to determine what exactly caused the coffeemaker to catch fire. Linder says they would need an electrical engineer to find out the specifics.

Fire officials also don't want to destroy any evidence insurance agents or investigators may use to determine more about the fire.

The memory of the fire is still fresh in the minds of Oakwood Manor residents.

Lori Wilkerson lives adjacent to the building that caught fire. She recalled the early morning chaos that brought her outside her apartment:

"The fire trucks and everything were already here, and the flames were already shooting out the door over there," Wilkerson said, pointing to the charred building. "We didn't know what was happening at the time. We just heard the knock on the door, and somebody said something about fire. And I was just in total shock."

Paul Neville with St. Vincent de Paul says all 13 residents affected by the fire have a place to say for now, whether that's a motel or a family member's house. Red Cross is also helping to house and feed displaced residents.

"We've got people to temporary housing, motels, so we have people working full-time on that right now, and so we're doing a lot of the work," Neville said. "We're trying to meet all the basic needs and so far, we understand everyone is doing OK."

Neville says they hope to move people permanently back into Oakwood Manor or another St. Vincent de Paul's apartment. He says it will be about 6 months before the burned building is repaired.

"We're very thankful that no one was injured, extremely thankful and it just underscores how important our people are in these complexes. We were so thankful that morning to see everyone OK," Neville said.

St. Vincent de Paul is helping residents find resources to buy food, furniture and clothing. Neville also told us a local business, Bi-Mart, gifted the affected residents several gift cards to buy clothing, household items and toys for their kids.

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