While many turkeys were roasted, see how firefighters saved two flocks of chickens. And, find out what’s causing these costly, and potentially dangerous, fires …
After extinguishing the blaze at a Southeast Portland Thanksgiving-morning “chicken coop fire”, firefighters coat the charred structural areas with “Class A foam” to prevent a flare-up.
Story and photos by David F. Ashton
November 25 was a bad day for two homeowners, but a good day for the chickens these urban farmers were keeping.
At 9:45 a.m., Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) crews headed out to 4921 SE 79th Avenue, responding to multiple calls to 9-1-1 about a garage on fire.
“The first arriving crews found a detached garage with significant fire involvement, and heavy smoke on the structure’s exterior,” reported PF&R Battalion Chief C3 Craig Funk at the scene. “A concern was that half of the structure was converted into a residence.”
Truck 25’s driver, Stu Johnson, ventilates the roof with a chainsaw. while his tillerman (who steers the back of the fire truck), Scott Crawford, stands by to help.
While they checked the residence for occupants, other crews from Station 25 and Station 19 pulled hose lines, and quickly knocked down the fire. “Crews fought the fire from both inside and outside the garage; and they were able to put out the fire that had spread to the common attic. The garage and attic space sustained heavy damage,” Funk told us.
Firefighters “overhaul” the burned debris from the garage, which was badly damaged in the fire.
A cat perished in the blaze, the chief added, but there were no human injuries, and there was minimal damage to the residential space in the structure.
“The homeowner said fire was started by a heat lamp inside a chicken coop that was attached to the back of the garage,” Funk added. Damage is estimated at $35,000. The chickens were not fricasseed in the blaze.
Firefighters called to second chicken coop fire
After knocking down the second Southeast “chicken coop fire” of the day, crews rescue the chickens.
About 8:30 p.m., the same fire crews headed out for a second fire — this one at 2419 SE 71st Avenue.
“When I came out here, there were flames about 30 feet in the air,” next door neighbor Russ Carpenter told us. “I felt a sense of panic – oh, heavens yes. The cedar tree was burning; it sounded like a forest fire.”
Fire crews look delighted that both the structure and the chickens were saved.
Battalion Chief Jim Forter filled us in. “The first arriving crews encountered a detached garage with a chicken coop against it, with significant fire involvement on the interior of the structure. Hose lines were advanced, and the fire was quickly knocked down.”
Carpenter said he asked firefighters if they’d save the chickens in the coop. “Rescuing the chickens was the easy part, catching them after the fire was the hard part,” commented firefighter Stu Johnson, driver of Truck 25.
Next door neighbor Russ Carpenter praised Portland’s firefighters for saving their neighbor’s house – and chickens.
“All four chickens were saved,” Carpenter reported. “We have them in our shed. I think our firefighters are marvelous; I can’t thank them enough for the work that they do every day, especially tonight, on Thanksgiving.”
Firefighters from Station 25 were pleased that they successfully completed their second fowl rescue on Thanksgiving Day.
Heat lamps were believed to be the cause of that blaze, which caused $10,000 in damages to the garage, but investigators have not yet released the official cause of the fire.
“The City of Portland has seen a three-fold increase in urban farms in the past two years,” said PF&R Public Information Officer Paul Corah. “We expect to see a further increase in these kinds of fires.”
Making a cautionary point, Corah pointed out that a 100-watt light bulb burns at 200º degrees; a heat lamp at 500 º. “Wood ignites at 575º – leaving very little margin for safe operation. Please use a great deal of care where you place heating devices.”
By the way, the City limits backyard farmers to only three chickens per household, and no roosters. No word on whether the extra chicken, in this case, was issued a ticket.
© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News