Garage heater fire blamed for Centennial fire that injures two

See why firefighters say this is the wrong way to ‘warm up’ a car on a cold winter morning …

Firefighters arrive to find flames coming from this Centennial neighborhood house and garage. Dick Harris/PF&R Photo

By David F. Ashton
The normally sleepy cul-de-sac at SE 161st Court, four blocks north of SE Division Street, just off SE Lincoln Street, was awakened at about 8:00 a.m. as Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) pulled up at a house that had turned into an inferno.

The crew from Rockwood Station 31 reported seeing the column of smoke at a distance, as they sped to 2021 SE 161st Court.

“The first arriving firefighters found flames coming from the garage and a car in the driveway,” said PF&R spokesman Ron Rouse.

Battling intense heat, fire and smoke, fire crews blast water into the burning garage. Dick Harris/PF&R Photo

Crews from additional fire stations responded and began hooking up water lines to attack the seat of the fire, while others searched the smoke-filled structure.

“A gentleman has sustained minor burns from the fire,” Rouse said, after firefighters determined that the blazing house had been evacuated.

Although having what was described as “minor burns to the arms and head”, the victim refused transport. “Another gentleman went to the hospital by personal vehicle, for precautionary reasons,” Rouse added.

On the roof, firefighters stand by to cut “vertical ventilation” holes to allow heat and combustible gases to exit from the structure. Dick Harris/PF&R Photo

After the fire had finally been quenched, PF&R Fire Investigators moved in and began searching the area.

It didn’t take long for them to reveal their findings: The cause of the fire was a propane heater malfunction in the garage, apparently to warm up the car. The fire spread into the house via the attic.

After an intensive firefight, crews get this fire under control. Dick Harris/PF&R Photo

“In total, this fire caused $85,000 worth of damage,” Rouse said.

“This time of year, we typically see this kind of fire more frequently,” Rouse told reporters. “PF&R urges people to take extra care when using heat sources of this kind.”

> On our Front Page: Dick Harris captures firefighters working to extinguish this intense house fire.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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