Neighbor’s prompt call saves SE home from fire

See how Portland Fire & Rescue’s prompt response kept a burning van from setting this disabled woman’s home ablaze …

Thanks to a neighbor’s prompt call to 9-1-1, and fast response from Portland Fire & Rescue Station 25 and Station 11, this van fire didn’t turn into a tragedy.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The victim of a late-night fire on December 11 sat on a bench in her yard with her cane in hand as she watched Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) firefighters wrapped up their hoses and stow their equipment on their rigs near the modest home at SE 57th Ave and SE Carlton St. in SE Portland.

“I just got home from Wal-Mart,” she told us. “I pulled into the driveway, smelled smoke and and heard something. When I looked there was fire – and I mean a LOT of fire – coming out of my car. My cordless phone in my house didn’t work because the power was out; my neighbors called 911 for help.”

A fire investigator looks over the burnt van while firefighters gather their gear.

The fire burned so fiercely, it melted the overhead electric power and it fell into the street.

Three-minutes response saves home
At the scene, District Four Battalion Chief Todd Kethley said when crews arrived, “There were heavy flames coming from a van parked in the driveway.”

The fire was so intense, Keathly reported, the blaze melted the electrical power line overhead so that it dropped into the street. “Initially, this was a hazard for our firefighters.”

When the chief checked the call information on his truck’s mobile computer, he found it came in 11:38 p.m.; the truck from Station 25 arrived on scene within three minutes; and, they turned command over to the firefighters on Engine 11 who arrived a minute later.

“Fortunately, the flames from a van did not extend to the house,” pointed out Keathly. “We’ve checked the house and it appears okay. Portland General Electric just arrived and they’re working to restore electrical service.”

As homeowner got up to go back into her house, she said, “I sure do appreciate our firemen. They just saved my home from burning up.”

Even though her van is toast, the homeowner says she’s thankful firefighters saved her home from going up in smoke.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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