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A retired nurse and her four dogs escaped injury Wednesday night from a fire that heavily damaged their southeast Albany home.

Albany Fire Department said in a press release that the fire began on the exterior of the structure in the 500 block of Southeast 38th Avenue due to improperly discarded fireplace ashes.

Carolyn King said she had just left her computer shortly after 9:30 p.m. Wednesday when she noticed her back porch engulfed in flames. King said she had cleaned out her wood stove earlier that afternoon and placed the ashes in a bucket in that area, and had let her dogs out about 5 p.m. but didn't notice anything unusual at the time.

King called 911 and safely evacuated with her animals. Albany crews had the fire under control at 10:19 p.m., according to the release.

The 924-square-foot-home, built in 1972, is valued at $136,000, according to the Linn County Assessor's Office. Estimated damage to the structure was $100,000.

Firefighters spent the morning gathering personal items and pet food from inside the home, while neighbors and friends of King stopped by to give her hugs and offer support. She spent Wednesday night with a neighbor.

King, who spent her nursing career in Salem, said she has kept active both fostering dogs for Safe Haven and volunteering with the Gleaners. 

King said she has homeowner's insurance, and the Red Cross was contacted to provide emergency assistance. However, she is concerned about further assistance.

“I’m on Social Security and only have $48 for the rest of my month’s needs,” King said. “I don’t know where I will come up with the $500 deductible (for the fire insurance).” 

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