WASHOUGAL, Wash. – Authorities plan to search the rubble of a house fire Thursday for the body of a man who fired multiple rounds from rifles and handguns for at least 90 minutes Wednesday as his southwest Washington home burned around him, authorities said.
There was no sign of the man in the smoldering ruins of the Washougal home, but Clark County sheriff's Sgt. Kevin Allais said Wednesday evening he's confident the man did not get past a SWAT team that surrounded the house.
The gunfire kept firefighters from dousing the blaze. One bullet pierced a police car window, but no people were hit. Allais told reporters a propane tank exploded at one point, sending up a fireball.
Authorities were not sure whether anyone else was in the house. The Columbian reported that the man's wife and her sister also lived at the home.
The officer declined to discuss a possible motive for the gunfire.
The large residential property included a house and shop. The gunfire forced firefighters to let the fire burn itself out and the buildings were destroyed.
Bobby Bean, 53, of Washougal, was taking his car to the shop when he spotted the fire, called 911 and pounded on the front door. He told The Oregonian a man inside shouted, "Get out of here!" Sheriff's Sgt. Scott Schanaker said the man then fired several shots through a front window.
"There were a lot of gunshots," Bean recalled. "It was pretty scary. It seemed like 100 years — everything was a blur."
Witness Travis McMahon told KGW-TV of Portland, Ore., that he started to videotape the fire on his cellphone and one of the bullets suddenly whizzed right by his head.
"You can hear it (on the video) literally, go right past me, fffffft, right by my head," he said.
Police evacuated nearby houses; four schools were temporarily locked down.
No police fired their weapons, officers said.
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