Extension cord ignites midnight Lents neighborhood home blaze

This is a fire that needn’t have happened, officials say. See how much damage this little mistake caused …

Minutes before midnight, fire apparatus rolls into the Lents neighborhood, looking for signs of a house on fire.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It was fortunate that nobody died when a fire raced through a two-story home in the 9700 block of SE Reedway, on August 17.

Records show the fire call came in at 11:57 pm, and Portland Fire & Rescue crews raced to the location, just a couple of blocks south of SE Harold Street.

Firefighters saw smoke coming from the eaves of the house when they pulled up, with flames shooting out of the basement of the home.

From the basement to the roof, firefighters search out and extinguish the fire that investigators say started in the basement. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

“While the primary fire attack got underway,” reported PF&R Public Information Officer Paul Corah, “Other crews searched the home, and determined that all occupants had escaped.”

Because the fire extended up through the house, Corah said, it took about 40 minutes for firefighters to control the blaze. “They stayed on-scene, ensuring that all hot spots had been extinguished, until 1:35 am.”

Four adults and three children safely evacuated the home, along with three pets – two dogs and one cat.  But one of the dogs subsequently died at the scene of smoke inhalation.

After putting out the hotspots, firefighters carefully climb off the roof of this Lents home. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

“Investigators have determined the cause of the fire to be an overheated electrical cord, that was underneath a mattress and ignited it,” Corah told us. “They estimate the fire caused $15,000 in damage to the home.”

He reminded that no power cord should be plugged into an extension cord with a wire diameter smaller than the cord plugged into it – and, if they’re the same size, no additional cords should be plugged into the extension cord because \the risk of wire overheating, and fire, can follow.
The American Red Cross was called in to assist the family with alternate housing arrangements.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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