A fire that had been smoldering for hours gutted a two-story house in rural Joseph early on Feb. 24.

The occupant, Jeremy Dodd, a Wallowa County sheriff's dispatcher, was not injured.

Fire Chief Tom Clevenger said the fire started near a stovepipe and spread throughout the house while Dodd was sleeping. He woke up, saw smoke and escaped, Clevenger said.

The house was equipped with a smoke detector but it didn't operate due to a weak battery, Clevenger said. The loss was estimated at $100,000.

Fourteen Joseph volunteer firefighters responded, negotiating slippery ice on Old Ski Run Road and arriving 14 minutes after dispatch. Almost immediately on the scene was Undersheriff Steve Rogers, who lives nearby.

Six Enterprise firefighters assisted, shuttling water from the nearest fire hydrant more than a mile away.

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