Powellhurst-Gilbert garage fire displaces four

Because it went from wisps of smoke to a blazing inferno so quickly, see why neighbors say the residents are lucky to be alive …

Portland Fire & Rescue firefighters from four area stations rushed to the 6000 block of SE 122nd Avenue, and found flames leaping from the garage of this home.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It was late Saturday morning when Sherry Morgan looked out the window of her Powellhurst-Gilbert home on November 3.

“I saw smoke coming out of the neighbor’s house – a lot of it,” reports Morgan. “I thought someone might be using a fireplace. But when I looked out a minute later, there were big flames coming out of the side window of the garage.”

Through the thick smoke, Morgan tells us she saw firefighters arrive: “It seemed like they got here almost immediately; they started putting the fire out.”

Some firefighters attack the fire from inside the garage and carport.

Four-minute response saves house
District 4 Battalion Chief Todd Keathley says the call came in at 11:20 a.m. and the first crews arrived 11:24 a.m. “They found heavy fire in the garage; extending up into the attic.”

We see a crew working on the garage roof, cutting a good-sized hole. “They cut the hole to relieve some of the heat, and gain access to the fire. Other firefighters are inside, pulling parts of the ceiling down,” Keathley explains.

The Battalion Chief tells us that the main part of the house looks to be in pretty good shape, except for smoke damage. A call comes in, telling him that the carport has become unstable. Keathley orders firefighters off it.

Within an hour, firefighters from PF&R Station 7, 11, 31, and 32 are looking for smoldering embers, and starting to pack their gear.

Other firefighters climb on the roof of the garage, and open the roof to gain access to the fire.

Fire displaces four … and more …
The fire, which did moderate physical and extensive smoke damage to the private residence, displaced 4 adults, 4 grown dogs, 4 puppies, and numerous pet birds, reveals Thomas Traver of the American Red Cross Oregon Trail Chapter.

“We’re helping the residents by providing assistance with food, clothing and temporary lodging. Red Cross Client Services caseworkers will continue to provide assistance and providing additional aid as needed,” Traver said.

Lights the fire
According to PF&R spokesman Lt. Allen Oswalt, “An electric lamp without a shade was leaning against some hanging clothes. It started the fire.”

The loss arising from one hot light bulb left unsupervised is estimated at $135,000.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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