Housefire’s choking smoke sends elderly man to hospital

See why firefighters rushed “Code Three” to this outer East Portland home. And, learn how its 93-year-old occupant escaped ‚Ķ

Even though firefighters arrived on scene promptly, the fire that ripped through this home did substantial damage ‚Äì nearly taking the owner’s life. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Before dawn, on February 19, the home of an elderly outer East Portland man went up in flames.

At 5:19 a.m., crews from Portland Fire & Rescue and Gresham Fire raced, “Code 3” — with lights and sirens — to a fire in a residence reported in the 13700 block of SE Center Street.

“I was up, getting ready to go to work,” a neighbor told us, “and saw an orange, flickering light outside. Really heavy smoke was pouring out of the roof.”

Four minutes after they got the call, firefighters pulled up to the wood-frame house.

“There was heavy fire involvement on the rear of the residence,” reported PF&R spokesman John Hill. The fire was so intense, it took [a longer-than-usual] 20 minutes until the fire incident was recalled [put out].”

Neighbors told us the man’s son lives in a small cottage behind the home. “I’m pretty sure he saved his father’s life,” a neighbor told us. “I saw him and his dad coming out of the front door. They were both coughing; they didn’t look very good.”

Looking at the charred remains of the home and singed, personal property sitting out front, most would agree with the neighbors who said they were amazed the owner survived the blaze.

Officials told us that the elderly man was transported to Portland Adventist Medical Center with smoke inhalation; the son, apparently recovered from the rescue of his father, refused transport to a medical facility.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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