Smoker’s carelessness leads to home fire

See why this fire could have easily been avoided, according to officials – and what lessons can be learned from this destructive blaze …

Neighbors say they heard a fire alarm sounding somewhere nearby, long before they were able to pinpoint the fire to this house.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Although the ramshackle house on S.E. 68th Avenue at S.E. Cooper Street doesn’t look like much – it did have a working smoke alarm that sounded, late in the afternoon of Tuesday, May 20.

A neighbor, Amanda Soto, told the news media she heard the alarm going off nearby for some time before she saw smoke rising from the neighbor’s house, prompting her to called 9-1-1.

“The crew from Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) Engine 25 were first on-scene,” said new PF&R spokesman, Paul Corah. “When they arrived, thick, dark smoke was showing from the front and sides of the structure.”

With Firefighters and apparatus from PF&R Stations 25, 20, and 11 responding to the fire, Corah said, the blaze was quickly extinguished – but not before it had gutted the small frame structure in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood.

Then, about 10:30 p.m. that evening, Engine 25 was called back to the house, responding to a report that the fire had rekindled. “In fact, it was just the overhaul [fire debris] pile, near the house, that was smoking. The firefighters quickly extinguished it.”

“The front room burned up pretty well,” Corah reported, saying that the fire left the small house uninhabitable. “Damage has been set at $110,000 to the home and contents.”

This small home is now uninhabitable – because of smoker’s carelessness, fire officials say.

Fire investigators said they discovered that the cause was clear: Careless smoking. “They found an ashtray, overflowing, on a sofa in the living room,” Corah revealed, consulting the report. “It appeared as if a live cigarette tipped out of the ashtray and smoldered, unattended, until the home caught fire.”

While he was glad to learn that the house did have a working smoke detector, Corah pointed out that “Careless smoking and candle fires are truly avoidable.

“Make sure any cigarette or candle is completely extinguished before leaving the room – or leaving the house!”

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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