Fast response limits fire damage to Lents home

Neighbors say fire trucks rolled up before they even could hang up with 9-1-1 Center! See what we found out about this fire, and how much damage it caused …

Although we arrived only minutes after the call went out, Portland Fire & Rescue crews from Station 11 and 25 had already extinguished the fire in this outer East Portland home.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Crews at Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) got a much-needed break after the dozen fires they fought last week. But, a fire reported at a house in the 8900 block of SE Ellis Street on December 17 didn’t catch the crew from PF&R Station napping, when the call came in at 4:01 p.m.

“We saw smoke coming from the house,” the next-door neighbor told us. “There wasn’t that much at first – I didn’t see any fire. The fire trucks pulled up before my wife could hang up from her call to 911. After the firemen went into the house, a lot of smoke started coming out; probably from them putting out the fire.”

When we related the neighbor’s comment about quick response, Third District Battalion Chief Chris Babcock said, “That’s the kind of response time I like to hear about.”

Crew members from PF&R Station 25 are also called out to assist the firefighters from Station 11 in Lents.

Checking the records from his command vehicle, Babcock said crews were on scene within two minutes of dispatch; the fire was out 24 minutes later.

“We had a ‘room and contents’ fire,” Babcock told us. “The occupants were, fortunately, out of the house at the time. We have an investigator coming out to try to determine the exact cause. We got the dogs and I believe the cat out; we’re told they had a fish and some birds, we’re not certain how they fared in all of this.”

Structural damage from the fire was kept to a minimum, Babcock reported. “The fire did not extend to the attic or other spaces. We’ve got some windows that we need to cover. And, we were able to pop the roof vents off to check for fire, rather than to cut a hole in the roof.”

Firefighters limited the blaze to one room, officials say.

PF&R’s Lt. Rich Tyler followed up on the incident, and confirmed that crews found gray smoke coming from that back of the house. “Fire crews found an active fire burning in a back bedroom, and immediately extinguished it. Firefighters had the fire under control by 4:27 p.m.”

Tyler told us a total of 25 firefighters responded to the fire. “Fire investigators are still listing the cause as ‘under investigation’, and have listed the loss at $15,000.”

Their work done at this fire, crew members begin to put away their gear.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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