‘Intentionally set’ blaze damages Parkrose home

No one was injured in the fire, officials say; but you’ll see the damage this conflagration caused to a home in this quiet neighborhood in outer NE Portland ‚Ķ

Neighbors say things are usually pretty quiet along the 10600 block of NE Knott St., where this fire took place.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Damage to the modest, one-story frame home in the 10600 block of NE Knott St. in Parkrose isn’t great. But, how ‚Äì and why ‚Äì the fire started concerns some area neighbors.

Youngster spots blaze
“I saw a light in front of our house,” explains Jesse Almasan, whose family lives across the street from the fire-damaged home.

“I thought it was my sister coming back from the library.” The young man continues. “I looked out the window and saw a house burning. I called my

Dad and told him to call 9-1-1 because the neighbor’s house, across the street was on fire.”

When neighbor Jesse Almasan saw fire, he made sure his dad quickly called 9-1-1.

The helpful neighbor says he could see fire burning out from the front of the house. “You could really see the flames. It’s too bad this happened. I used to mow the lawn for the lady who owns the house.”

Police arrive before firefighters
Jesse’s father, George Almasan, picks up the story: “Two police cars were here in less than two minutes, and asked if someone was in the house. It  looked as if it was empty because no cars were around it in the driveway. I thought there was someone there.”

Telling us his family has lived there for 19 years, the father adds, “l sorry for them. We got to know them. They are very nice people. It is very sad.”

Other neighbors also report seeing police cars arrive before fire units. We’re told that one individual, exhibiting signs of emotional distress, is seen being escorted out by officers.

In the chief’s words
“We have a fire in a single-family residence,” confirms Battalion Chief Chris Babcock.

One occupant was transported by ambulance to Kaiser Sunnyside Hospital, Babcock tells us on scene. “Her exact situation ‚Ķ nothing fire-related. The individual was taken to the hospital for treatment.”

Engine 12 is the first to arrive, quickly followed by an engine, truck, and rescue unit from Station 2. Crews from Stations 19 and 7 also respond to the fire.

An individual, whom neighbors say lives in the home, looks on as firefighters make sure the fire is completely out.

Word from the experts: Fire intentionally set
Although this incident remains under investigation, Portland Fire & Rescue spokesman Lt. Allen Oswalt later tells us they believe the fire was “intentionally set”.

“It may look like the home was severely damaged,” Oswalt continues, “but crews knocked down the fire in minutes. It was hot enough to burn off the PP&L power line, but the fire was contained in the carport area. The home mostly suffered only smoke damage.”

No smoke detectors
There were no smoke detectors in the home, Oswalt adds. “There’s no reason NOT to have a working smoke detector. Today’s units are reliable and inexpensive. And, we have a program that will supply ‚Äì and will even mount ‚Äì a smoke detector in a home of anyone who can’t afford one.”

To learn the conditions that apply to that offer, citizens can call the Smoke Detector Hotline at (503) 823-3752.

“One last thing,” Oswalt adds, “we’ve had several apartment fires in East Portland. Please remind tenants that the landlord is required, by law, to provide a working smoke alarm. They are also responsible for testing it on a regular basis, to ensure that it will give residents the early warning they need, in the event of a fire.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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