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Published: Thursday, 10/8/2009

Blaze levels house of official who died in September

High winds early yesterday triggered a fire at the Jerusalem Township home of a longtime Oregon school board member who died last month.

Wind-whipped flames then destroyed the building. Lost were four generations of photos, family records, and furniture.

“It gets pretty sim ple: Everything is gone,” said William “George” Carstensen, whose mother, Betty Jo Carstensen, lived at the home on Veler Road until her death Sept. 5.

Also lost was $10,000 in checks contributed to a cause suggested in her memory by the family: The Betty Jo Carstensen Scholarship Foundation at the Oregon City Schools.

Her son yesterday said the family would be appreciative if anyone who sent a check would like to send another check.

Chief Harold Stanton said the fire was reported at 3:38 a.m. and when crews arrived, the house was ablaze. Firefighters were unable to enter the building and concentrated instead on a keeping up a steady flow of water and protecting outbuildings, including a barn containing several thousand bales of hay.

The wind knocked down a tree, which fell onto a power line, tearing it loose from the house. Arcing of the power line caused the fire, Chief Stanton said.

He did not have a loss estimate. He said the house was destroyed “down to its foundation.”

A graveside service for Mrs. Carstensen will be at 1 p.m. Saturday in Oakwood Cemetery on Brown Road in Jerusalem Township.

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