Bicycle supply company destroyed in 3-alarm blaze

See why this fire burned so hot, quickly destroying the roof and putting the building’s structure in jeopardy …

This fire at VeloTech burned fast and hot, officials say.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Early Sunday morning, August 3, the alarm bells rang at one, then two – and finally three – Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) stations in outer NE Portland, as firefighters scrambled into their gear and headed to a commercial fire at VeloTech, located at 6150 NE 92nd Drive.

About 12:45 a.m., crews rolled through the industrial park, near the Columbia Slough, and found thick black smoke, and plenty of it.

“There was heavy smoke showing from the south end of the structure,” reported PF&R spokesperson, Kim Kosmas. “Firefighters were unable to locate the fire initially, due to the heavy black smoke. The fire quickly burned through the roof, due to the heavy fire load inside the building.”

Battalion Chief Mark Gift (in the white helmet and shirt) makes a plan for overhauling – taking out burned debris from – the burnt-out business.

We learned that clothing, bicycle tires, and CO2 cylinders were involved in the fire. “Crews were forced to go to a defensive attack, and quickly gained control of the fire,” noted Kosmas. “In total, 10 Engines, two trucks, one squad, two investigators, and three chiefs fought the fire, which they got under control at 1:43 am.”

Firefighters stayed on watch throughout the night, and into the next day.

From the building’s rear, the fire damage – including the missing room – is clearly evident.

At the fire scene later in the day, we saw crews preparing to shore up the sides of the building. Firefighters were standing by, but not yet entering the structure.

We asked Battalion Chief Mark Gift, then in charge of the scene, to describe the firefighting effort. “Our firefighters did a good job fighting a very intense blaze. This was a substantial fire.”

Gift noted that most of the roof was destroyed. “In this kind of building, the roof helps provide structural integrity to the building. We’re taking a close look at the structure – and making sure the outer walls are shored up – before we attempt to finish the overhaul along the edge of the roof.”

A welder prepares steel beams that will be used to shore up the walls, and keep the “tilt-up” structure from collapsing, while firefighters, investigators, and a clean-up crew work in the building.

Pointing to the northern portion of the building, Guest added, “These units have a one-hour firewall. It saved the other businesses.”

At the time of publication, no amount of loss had been determined for the building or contents. The fire was still under investigation.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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