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Firefighters to burn down house in Clinton as training exercise

Don’t worry about this morning’s house fire in downtown Clinton. The fire department will be setting it.

“I’m going to light the match myself,” said Island County Fire District 3 Deputy Chief Jon Beck. “I lived in that stinky place for six months.”

The controlled burn starts off a busy day for the district. Tonight, the 12 most-recent graduates of the firefighter training academy will be honored at a dinner in Freeland.

This morning, about 20 firefighters were to participate in the burn exercise at the house next to the Clinton Fire Station, said Beck, the district’s training officer.

He said the district has owned the old 800-square-foot, two-bedroom, one-story house for several years, and has used it off and on for training.

The house is at 6428 Humphrey Road, just off Highway 525 and across from Simmons Garage.

“It’s in really bad shape,” Beck said Thursday. “We spent about a year and a half trying to find somebody to rent it.”

Starting about 9 a.m., firefighters were to take turns practicing their inside games battling small, interior fires in the building.

“Once everybody has had a chance, we’ll make sure everybody’s out, then we’ll burn it to the ground,” Beck said.

On hand to assist will be four or five fire trucks and other vehicles, Beck said Thursday.

He said the department has acquired the necessary permits from the county and the Northwest Clean Air Authority.

The district has to prove that there is benefit to the department in setting a building on fire, he added.

“It took about a week’s worth of paperwork to be able to burn it down,” Beck said.

He said that after the exercise, the lot will be leveled and used as a staging area for the Clinton crew, and for any future expansion of the fire station.

It’s not the first time firefighters have torched a house.

Beck said the district gets four or five requests a year from South End residents for firefighters to burn down buildings on their property.

Meanwhile, the fire-academy graduates will be honored at a dinner at 5 p.m. tonight at the Freeland Fire Station,

The graduates, including a number of high school students, are about to become certified firefighters, and will be added to the district’s roster pending approval by the fire commissioners, Beck said.

He said the recruits received about five months of training, attending sessions at the Freeland station two nights a week and on occasional weekends.

Their addition to the roster will bring the number of district volunteers to more than 100, Beck said.

The graduation dinner and program are free, and the public is invited, he said. The Freeland Fire Station is at 5535 Cameron Road.

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