Woman dies in Hazelwood house fire

Although the fire was accidental, find out why its elderly resident did not survive it …

Thick smoke surges from a Hazelwood neighborhood home after a fireplace sets a room on fire. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

By David F. Ashton

The residents of a house in the Hazelwood neighborhood chased the chill by lighting a fire in their fireplace on the morning of December 2.

But, at 10:50 a.m., that fire spread to near by flammable items inside the residence at 12325 NE Hassalo Street.

Firefighters pull water lines and set up ladders as they fight the house fire. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) Gateway Station Engine 30 was first at the scene, and reported seeing thick clouds of dark gray smoke coming from the house.

As engine and truck companies swiftly arrived from Mill Park Station 7 and Parkrose Station 2, the residents who had escaped told firefighters that a woman was still inside the house.

In an effort to rescue an elderly woman inside a bedroom, firefighters make their way into the house by way of the window. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

“Fire crews entered front bedroom through the outside window,” said PF&R Public Information Officer Lt. Rich Tyler. “The crews located the victim, removed her from the smoke-filled room, and determined that she was deceased.”

The residents who escaped the fire were in the basement, and didn’t hear a fire or smoke alarm, Tyler commented. “The deceased 76 year old female was disabled, and unable to escape the fire on her own,” he added.

Before being transported to a hospital, a surviving fire victim is treated and medically stabilized by paramedic firefighters. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

One adult female and three young children who were home at the time of the blaze escaped the house prior to the fire crew’s arrival. “They were all transported to an area hospital by ambulance with non-life threatening injuries,” Tyler stated.

“There was one smoke alarm found on the main floor, but firefighters did not hear the alarm sounding as they entered the home,” said Tyler.

PF&R Investigators found that this was an accidental fire. “They determined that the fire started on the floor immediately beyond the fireplace,” revealed Tyler. “Investigators believe combustibles were too close to the operating fireplace, which started the fire.”

Fire crews make their way inside the house to extinguish the fire. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

The Fire Bureau spokesman remarked that people typically have less than three minutes to escape a house fire. “Having a working smoke alarm cuts the risk of dying in a home fire in half,” Tyler said. “Contact PF&R’s smoke alarm hotline at 503-823-3752 for more information about how to get smoke alarms for your home.”

Truck crews stand by on the roof, in case it needs to be ventilated if the fire were to spread to the attic of the home. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

The American Red Cross Cascades Region, responded because the fire displaced a total of six adults and seven children, according to their spokesman, Thomas McCann.

“The Red Cross provided assistance for temporary lodging, assistance for immediate basic needs, mental health services, medication, comfort kits, stuffed animals and recovery information,” McCann said.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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