Neighbors blame squatters for Hazelwood house fire

There wasn’t anything in this boarded-up house that could have caught fire by itself, area folks say …

Firefighters spray a tiny house in Hazelwood, after it mysteriously catches fire. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

By David F. Ashton

Early in the morning hours of October 6, Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) responded the company from Mt. Tabor Station 16, and three other fire stations, to the Hazelwood neighborhood.

When the trucks rolled up about 1:50 a.m., first-arriving crews reported seeing flames coming from the back of the 648-square-foot house.

Working from the side as well as the front, fire crews extinguish the blaze. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

“Firefighters pulled hose lines to the back and began putting the fire out, while others went inside to make sure everyone had gotten out,” said PF&R Public Information Officer Lt. Rich Tyler. “But the house had been boarded up, and firefighters didn’t find anyone inside.”

It took about 20 minutes for the crews to get the blaze under control, but they stayed another hour, opening up the eaves and walls of the home to put the last of the fire out, Tyler said.

Firefighters rip open the roof and eves to quench the blaze inside this house. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

“There wasn’t supposed to be anyone in there,” said neighbor Rita Davis. “When houses go vacant, it doesn’t take more than a day for [homeless people] to move in. They do all kinds of mischief in there – you can see candles at night.

She added, “There are a lot of creepy people around here at night. I won’t walk my dog after dark. It’s getting scary.”

The fire cause is under investigation and damage estimates are pending.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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