Blaze destroys ‘street camper’ RV

Neighbors say they’re concerned about this outer East Portland side street becoming a ‘campground’ for the homeless …

Standing at a safe distance from the smoldering recreational vehicle in the Lents neighborhood, a firefighter continues to douse it with water.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

When a recreational vehicle parked on a Lents neighborhood side street went up in flames the evening of August 2, the blaze could seen for blocks.

Several neighbors called the 9-1-1 Center to report the fire on SE Bush Street near 86th Avenue, just north of Eastport Plaza, at 10:58 p.m. that evening.

The fire crew continues pouring water on the smoldering motor home.

“I was getting ready for bed, and I saw this bright orange light outside my house, looked out the window, and saw the camper van on fire; and the flames were burning the insulation off the wires on the poles above it,” said neighbor Marge Griffiths.

“When I called 9-1-1, I told them I could also smell a bad chemical smell coming off the fire,” Griffiths told East Portland News.

“I’m pretty sure no one was left inside,” Griffiths observed, “because I saw three people running toward the buildings in the shopping center, and disappear around the corner.”

Even after being drenched with water, the RV keeps smoking.

Minutes after being dispatched, the crew of Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) Lents Station Engine 11 were there and battling the fire.

“It was burning pretty good; flames were igniting the wires above it,” a firefighter confirmed, adding that they’d hooked up a regular water supply line to a nearby hydrant to make sure they’d have enough water to put out the blaze.

Neighbors joined Griffiths, and together were grumbling about the campers and motor homes that now line SE Bush Street, between 82nd Avenue of Roses and 86th Avenue.

“Seems like every time I’m going to work, or shopping, this one guy is urinating in the grass next to his rig,” said one of the neighbors.

Firefighters attach a “Class A Foam” unit to the water line, and fog the RV’s interior with the ember-smothering retardant.

Even after the dousing with water and foam fire retardant, the RV was still smoldering as a PF&R Investigator pulled up.

“The cause of this fire is undetermined, however nothing leads our investigator to note anything suspicious,” PF&R Public Information Officer Lt. Damon Simmons told East Portland News after reviewing the reports.

With the fire out, a firefighter gets a closer look at the motor home, which was being used as a street-side residence.

Simmons confirmed there were no injuries and observed, “It seems that the motor home was being used as a residence.”

As to whatever odor might have been coming from the fire, no HazMat (Hazardous Materials) notes were in the report, Simmons said.

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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