While they’re at church, blaze chars family’s home

Take quick look: You can learn a lesson from what officials say was a critical mistake made by members of this household‚

Portland Fire and Rescue’s Station 7 arrived on-scene at this house fire within minutes‚ yet, still too late to prevent substantial damage.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Neighbors and passers by call 9-1-1 Emergency and report smoke billowing smoke and flames as a home in the 12600 block of SE Stark St. is ravaged by fire.

Finds home fully involved in fire

“We had heavy fire and smoke showing at this two-story frame house when we got here,” reports Portland Fire & Rescue’s Battalion 3 Chief, Chris Babcock the morning of May 27.

The Babcock says the home looks “lived in”. He says the dwelling is furnished and points out the brand new trampoline in the side yard, and fresh food in outdoor pet dishes.

“We did a very through search of all rooms didn’t find any occupants. The good news is there wasn’t anyone at home, no one is injured” Babcock tells us. “Unfortunately, someone will come home to find their house pretty badly damaged.”

While officials didn’t release the family’s name, they did tell us the family who occupied this house came home from church to find their home ravaged by fire.

This home was destroyed, investigators believe, because a clothes iron was left plugged in, turned on, and overheated.

Unattended clothes iron suspected as cause
While the investigation hasn’t been completed, indications are, Portland Fire & Rescue’s spokesman Lt. Allen Oswalt later tells us, the fire appears to have started in the laundry room‚ most likely by an electric iron left plugged in.

“Please, take a moment to make sure your coffee maker, electric clothes iron, or even curling iron is unplugged before you leave your house,” implores Oswalt. “It saddens all firefighters to see a home devastated by an appliance left plugged in‚ and by one forgetful moment.”

Firefighters from Station 7 roll up their hoses after putting out the house fire‚ one that might have been avoided, authorities say.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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