MOSCOW — A huge fire north of Moscow on Monday night engulfed a large barn used as a commercial piano restoration business, burning a large collection of musical instruments in the process.

The blaze, reported at about 8 p.m. on Foothill Road about 3 miles north of the city limits, swirled 50 feet into the night sky.

According to the Latah County Sheriff’s Office, an open-flame kerosene heater was unplugged but left on a timer and ignited a blanket, believing to have caused the fire. Moscow Volunteer Fire Department Chief Brian Nickerson said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Close to $1 million in damages were reported. About 30 grand pianos, an antique guitar collection, a van, tools and chemicals related to the business, Grand American Piano, were destroyed, the sheriff’s office said.

No one was injured.

Nickerson said firefighters were on scene for about 3½ hours, but it only took 30 to 45 minutes to get the blaze under control.

He said crews mopped up the scene for about 30 minutes starting around 9 a.m. Tuesday. He said the area should be in “good shape” and crews will not check on it today.

Clint Hughes owns the business, according to Grand American Piano’s website. He restores many types of pianos, but his passion is for those made between 1900 and 1930, a period he calls the “golden age” of American pianos, Hughes told the Moscow-Pullman Daily News in 2013.

It was a time when pianos were the focal point in many American homes and skilled craftsmen were plentiful, he said.

Hughes, who Nickerson said rents the barn, could not be immediately reached. Nickerson said the owners of the property were on scene when the fire started and called it in.

Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to

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