MT VERNON – The Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office and Oregon State Police Arson Division have been called in to help local authorities determine the cause of Wednesday morning’s explosion and fire at the Mt. Vernon Motel.
Witnesses told police the explosion lifted the roof from the old office area of the motel, causing the roof to cave into the structure, according to Sheriff Glenn Palmer.
Timothy Wayne Sherlock, 66, who lives at the residential motel, was severely burned in the incident. Neighbors and witnesses helped him on the scene. He was taken by Blue Mountain Hospital Ambulance to the John Day hospital and later flown to the Emanuel Hospital Burn Center in Portland.
Palmer said the motel’s absentee owners are John and Linda Bennett.
The fire consumed about 50 percent of the motel, with smoke and water damage throughout the rest of the apartments. It was termed a total loss.
The American Red Cross was called in to help tenants with housing and other needs.
Highway 395 was closed for about two hours for the firefighting effort. The Mt. Vernon Fire Department was aided by fire crews from John Day, Canyon City and Prairie City. The Sheriff’s Office, along with the Sheriff’s Posse and chaplaincy, and Oregon Department of Transportation, also responded to the emergency.