The Longview Fire Department will conduct training burns at the Maple Terrace Apartments on back-to-back Saturdays, Aug. 13 and Aug. 20. One building will be burned on each day, clearing the site for a Lower Columbia College parking lot.
Maple Street will be closed in front of the buildings, which lie just west of the college and the Longview Public Library. People will still have access to the library, according to Longview Fire officials.
LCC purchased the 62-unit complex and is razing it to make room for a parking lot — the first step in an expansion plan that ultimately will include a new, $37 million health and science building.
Fire crews will be on site from 8 a.m. until late afternoon on both days. They'll train on interior room fires in the morning, and larger fires later in the day, said Battalion Chief Kevin Taylor.
Both buildings will be burned down to their concrete bases, Taylor said.
"We'll get it down to a pile of rubble," he said.
Fire officials suggest that those living near the site keep windows closed and air conditioners turned off to minimize smoke intake.
Fire officials plan to go door-to-door today, notifying neighbors of the burn and answering questions.
These will be the first training burns of the year for Longview firefighters.
Taylor said the downturn in home and commercial construction has led to fewer fire training opportunities in recent years. In the past, a developer might buy a swath of land that includes a property to be demolished, and then allow firefighters to burn the building for training.
"With construction grinding to a halt, we're not seeing that availability anymore, so this is a really exciting opportunity," Taylor said.
Several other local fire departments also will take part in the training, Taylor said.
The burns were scheduled for Saturdays at the request of LCC officials.