Firefighters keep burning RV from torching house

While they couldn’t save the motor home, see how a snap decision of a Portland Fire & Rescue lieutenant saved the family’s home …

Using Compressed Air Foam to put out the hotspots, firefighters make sure the motor home fire is completely out.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The simple act of trying to start up a motor home could have ended up burning down the resident’s house and garage on Nov. 24.

“The owner told me the motor home had been sitting for quite a while,” reported Lt. Mark Lyons, Engine 25 as his crew continued to spray fire-extinguishing foam into the shell of the vehicle.

The lieutenant in charge of the effort added, “He said he started it up and saw some smoke. He saw the gas dripping from the gas line. A fire broke out. He went to get a fire extinguisher, and it didn’t put out the fire.”

So intense was the heat from the burning RV, the vinyl siding drips off the home next to it.

Called in as a vehicle fire
We learned from Battalion Chief, District #4, Mark Gift, that the call reporting the fire, in the 6500 block of SE 69th Ave., came in at 12:22 pm.

“When Engine 25 was enroute, they noticed a substantial column of smoke while they were still on heading south SE 52nd Ave., before they turned up Duke St.,” Gift told us. “It was originally dispatched as a vehicle fire; a motor home in a driveway adjacent to a house.”

Just five minutes after the fire call comes in, Engine 25 rolled up to the scene.

“When they arrived, the found a motor home half involved [on fire],” said Gift. “The fire was significant enough that the house immediately to the north and the garage immediately to the west were exposed to high temperatures from the fire.”

Fast response, and a timely decision to call in more units, save this home from going up in smoke.

Lt. Lyons requested a residential fire response. “This gives us a total of four engines, a ladder truck and two battalion chiefs to fight the fire,” explained Gift.

We saw that the home’s vinyl siding has melted, oozing and dripping on the driveway from the fire’s intense heat. The front of the detached garage was smoking, as if about to catch fire.

Thanks to the precision teamwork of responding firefighters, the fuel-fed fire engulfing the blazing RV was quenched. “There was some damage to the exterior of the house and the face of the garage. But there were no exertions inside,” said Lyons. “But it looks like the motor home is pretty much a loss.”

No one was injured; loss estimates were not available.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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