Cooking fire sets Hazelwood apartment ablaze

Other residents didn’t even know the building was burning – until swift-acting firefighters alerted them to evacuate …

Already on the road, about to return to their stations after another call mere blocks away, Portland Fire & Rescue crews roll up this fire and get to work.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Portland Fire and Rescue’s rapid response to the call of an apartment fire was even faster than usual on the evening of October 11 – when crews rushed to a fire on SE 139th Avenue, just north of SE Division Street.

Here’s why: The crews called to this fire at 9:16 p.m. had just been released from another apartment fire call only a few blocks east, on SE Division Street, because that kitchen fire was completely extinguished.

“When we got here, residents in the front unit didn’t even know there was a fire,” said a Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) Battalion Chief who rushed by us. “Some of our firefighters made sure all of the adjacent units were evacuated, while other firefighters started putting out the fire.”

Firefighters prepare their gear, getting ready to enter the burning building.

Fire was showing through the roof of the building; and it was initially reported as an attic fire.

Upon entering the directly-affected unit, firefighters found a kitchen fire that had extended up the stove vent hood, and into the roof, according to PF&R spokesman, Paul Corah.

Dodging overhanging trees at the apartment complex, firefighters scrambled up ladders to fight the blaze from above; while other crews extinguished the kitchen fire from below.

Heading up a ladder, firefighters prepare to attack the blaze – from both the roof and the interior.

With the flames extinguished, residents of the non-affected units returned home, and the American Red Cross, Oregon Trail Chapter, assisted an adult woman and her dog, displaced by the fire, with food, clothing, and comfort.

“PF&R Investigators have indicated that this fire was accidental,” Corah later reported. “It was a grease fire on the stove; the person cooking got the grease at the bottom of burner on fire, which flared up into the vent and the attic.”

Reportedly, the fire caused $30,000 in damages.

With the fire out, PF&R crews prepare to pack up their gear – and get ready for the next fire.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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