Just three hours, and 79 blocks apart, two fires gut east Portland homes

See how serious home blazes caused at least one fire crew to race from one East Portland residence to another …

It took firefighters 30 minutes to put out this fire on SE 153rd Avenue. [Dick Harris, PF&R, photo]

When duty calls, crews from Portland Fire & Rescue respond – sometimes going from one fire directly to another. Such was the case on February 23.

Outer Southeast fire
Four minutes after the call came in at 6:22 p.m., the crews from Engines 9, 45, and 73 arrive on-scene, in the 400 block of SE 153rd Avenue.

“The garage is fully involved in fire,” reports PF&R spokesman Lt. Allen Oswalt.

He says the blaze started in the attached garage of a residence. “Hot coals from a fireplace ‘cleanout’, inside the garage, ignited cardboard boxes stored too close to the fireplace chimney. Embers from the fire got up into the exposed attic of the home.”

We learn from the neighbors that the family had occupied the residence for less than two months. The dollar loss from this fire has been set at $60,000.

“The family got out OK, there were no injuries,” says Oswalt. “But, there is a lot of damage to the home.”

Firefighters use an infrared detector to seek hidden flames in the walls of a home on NE 74th Ave.

Northeast blaze injures resident
Later the same evening, the fact that his burning home was a block away from Fire Station 19 may have saved the resident’s life.

Neighbors across the street say they didn’t see flames. “There was a lot of thick, dark gray and black smoke coming out of the house,” she adds. “It seemed like the fire trucks were here, instantly.”

“We’ve got a fire in a one-story wood frame house,” Battalion Chief Chris Babcock tells us on scene. “Engine 19, just a block away, was first in. Immediately, they entered the building to attack the fire. Once inside, firefighters encountered heat and heavy smoke conditions.”

Portland Fire & Rescue spokesman, Lt Doug Jones continues the story: “At the same time firefighting efforts were taking place, members of Engine 19 began to search the inside of the house for any occupants that may have been inside.”

Had it not been for the fast-acting crew of Engine 19, the resident of the burning house probably would have died in the fire. [Dick Harris, PF&R, photo]

Within moments, Jones adds, they found an unconscious 55-year-old man on a bed in a back corner bedroom of the house. “They quickly carried him outside, where firefighters & paramedics began resuscitation efforts. He’s [the resident] being transported to Emanuel Hospital; he’s reported to have a pulse and to be breathing.”

The fire victim is later reported to be in critical, but stable condition.

“We had help from Engine 9,” reports Babcock. “They had just come from the fire on 153rd.”

A small dog found outside the residence was rescued and sent to Dove Lewis Emergency Animal Hospital.

This fire was extinguished very soon after fire crews arrived, officials say.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, and is still under investigation by Portland Fire & Rescue Fire Investigators.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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