East Portland firefighters quench two blazes in two days

Eighteen hours apart, these two residential fires kept crews from Portland Fire & Rescue busy. See why one of the fires sounded “two alarms” ‚Ķ

Firefighters knew they had to quickly knock this fire down to keep it from spreading to other units of this apartment building. (Dick Harris, PF&R photo)

Story and some photos by David F. Ashton
An apartment house fire on the evening of March 2 sent the crews of eleven fire engines and five ladder trucks to the 13000 block of SE Powell Boulevard.

“On arrival,” PF&R’s John Hill reports, “they had a large amount of fire in two of the first floor apartments.”

The flames, Hill says, were leaping to the second floor of the structure, extending up to the parapet area of the roof. When the roof was ablaze ten minutes after they arrived, the Battalion Chief called for a second alarm.

“A ‘second alarm’ immediately dispatches more resources to a fire,” explains the bureau spokesperson, Lt. Allen Oswalt. “Especially with an apartment fire, we want to make sure we contain the fire, and that it doesn’t spread to other units.”

Portland crews, assisted by Gresham firefighters, quickly knocked down the blaze.

“Damage to the apartment complex was limited,” Hill says, “so that we only had two adults and one child that are going to stay with another family member.”

This fire remains under investigation.

Neighbors’ quick calls save elderly woman’s burning home

Officials say calls by neighbors brought out firefighters to investigate reports of smoke coming from this Southeast Portland home.

“We look out for each other,” says a neighbor, standing in the intersection of SE Steele St. at 57th Avenue as firefighters swirl around us. “I was concerned when I saw smoke coming from this house because an elderly lady lives there.”

The concern led her, and other neighbors, to promptly call 9-1-1 when they saw smoke coming from more than the chimney of the modest blue home on March 3.

While firefighters check on her wellbeing, neighbors gather to comfort the woman whose home is damaged by a basement fire.

Quick investigation leads to fast action
Within minutes, Portland Fire & Rescue’s Truck 25 rolls on scene.

“Firefighters arrived to find smoke-stained windows,” Battalion Chief Erin Janssens tells us on scene. “They immediately called for ‘residential house fire response’, thus dispatching more units.”

A jet of water sprays out of a basement window, as firefighters quickly extinguish the fire, said to be located above the home’s basement ceiling.

Concerned that the occupant might be in the building, Janssens tells us, some firefighters made a complete search of the building while others looked for the source of the potential blaze.

“In the basement, they found the source of the smoke, and extinguished it,” says Janssens. “Fortunately, the occupant was out of the building.”

Lt. Greg Holsinger, from Station 25, comforts the homeowner, and gives her information regarding resources available to her.

In all, 24 firefighters responded to the incident, hailing from PF&R Stations 25, 20, 9 and 11.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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