Sunday, January 29, 2017

Barner’s Home a Total Loss Due to Fire

Above: The home of beloved community member George Barner, Jr. was engulfed in flames Sunday morning. Barner, who has lived at the home for several decades, was not home at the time. Barner arrived at the scene during the fire and was greeted and assisted by many friends.

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

The westside home of former port commissioner and beloved community member George Barner, Jr. is a total loss due to fire. 

The burning home, located in the 800 block of 5th Avenue SW, was first called into the Olympia Fire Department by a neighbor Sunday morning at 11:11 a.m. Barner was not home at the time.

Barner has been staying in a local hotel awaiting some repairs on the home, which was the scene of an attempted robbery two weeks ago. It took time to determine where Barner was located.

After that was determined, while the house was still on fire, Barner was brought to the scene and was greeted and assisted by many friends, who had also arrived and gathered on the street.  Barner said he had been home on Saturday and nothing was out of the ordinary.

According to a report by Olympia Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief Greg Wright, fire units reported seeing a smoke column at 11:14 a.m. before their arrival on the scene at 11:16 a.m. 

Several community members initially speculated that the nearby Capitol House Apartments, the former St. Peter’s Hospital on Sherman Street, was on fire.

Firefighters were unable to enter through the front door due to obstructions inside but did make access from a side door.  Smoke was down to the floor of the second story as firefighters tried to enter. Unable to make any progress due to the amount of items inside and the heavy fire, crews switched to a defensive mode from outside the house at 11:30 a.m.  
Ammunition for guns in the home that Barner kept for target practice was stored in the house and were heard going off for a significant amount of time, also keeping firefighters back. The fire continued to burn despite water being applied from a crane on the fire engine.

Above: Firefighters were unable to enter the home while the home burned. A considerable amount of ammunition stored in the home, heard going off for quite some time, also kept firefighters and the public back from the scene.
The brick walls of the 1920’s vintage home held the fire in and firefighters kept the fire from spreading to nearby trees and other buildings.  An attached lower level garage was relatively undamaged by fire.

The Olympia Fire Department responded with four engines, one ladder truck, two medic units, and a command unit.  There were no reported injuries.

Fire crews worked the fire until about 3:00 pm. One fire engine and crew will remain on the scene to watch for hotspots and secure some vehicles that were in the garage and driveway. 

An investigation into the cause of the fire will begin on Monday.  

Above: George Barner, Jr. speaks with Olympia fire fighters Sunday afternoon. Barner's house, with the roof collapsed, is a total loss. Little Hollywood told Barner that he is loved and the community will help him with whatever he needs.