Fire destroys historic Bakkila homestead in Deep River

PHIL RAISTAKKA photo<br> Rubble, ashes, and singed brush and trees are all that remain of the pioneer Jacob Bakkila homestead after an Aug. 3 fire of suspicious origin completely destroyed the house in the Deep River valley. Members of the Grays River Volunteer Fire Department and other cooperating fire departments prevented the fire from spreading into the nearby second growth timber.

DEEP RIVER - A fire, which Wahkiakum County Sheriff Gene Strong described as "suspicious in origin," destroyed an unoccupied house in the Deep River Valley Saturday evening, Aug. 3.

The fire was reported to 9-1-1 at 7:46 p.m. and by the time that members of the Grays River Volunteer Fire department arrived, the house was totally involved in flames.

Strong, who is also the chief of the Grays River Fire Department said, "We were fortunate that it didn't get into the timber any worse than it did. By the time the fire was reported and we arrived, the house was totally involved. We were able to control the flames from getting into the trees any worse than they did and we mopped up the house fire.

"We had eight fire fighters and three trucks on the scene, including our 5,000 gallon tender, so we had plenty of water available. We also could have used the water from the hydrant on the water company's line if we would have needed it.

"The mutual aid agreement also brought in a truck from District 4 (Cathlamet) and a vehicle from Skamokawa and a total of seven more fire fighters from those two departments," Strong concluded.

The house, the Jacob Bakkila homestead, was owned by Eva Malerich of Mt. Vernon, Va, a grand-daughter of the pioneer Bakkila family. Strong estimated that the house had not been occupied for approximately 20 years.

The sheriff is requesting any information about people or vehicles seen in the area, near the intersection of Deep River Valley and Wirkkala roads in the time period before the fire on Saturday, Aug. 3, be called into his office. The sheriff's office may be reached at (360) 465-2202.

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