A dangerous mix: Smoking and oxygen suspected in SE Portland house fire

See why firefighters were ‘ducking and covering’ in and around this house until they were sure the fire was completely extinguished …

A team of firefighters stand by, ready to go, in case a fire flairs up and causes an oxygen tank to explode at this SE Portland home.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The sound of explosions at a SE Portland home brought out firefighters, including a Portland Fire & Rescue training crew, on Friday, May 28.

“Heavy Fire and black smoke are coming from the back of the structure,” crews reported on the radio as they rolled on scene at 10:58 a.m.

SE 75th Avenue, north of SE Holgate Blvd., is filled with equipment as firefighters from as far away as NE Sandy Blvd. attend to this house fire.

Firefighters said they found a female patient on the front lawn of the home on the 4200 block of SE 75th St., suffering what they aid were “fire related injuries.”

A neighbor, who said he helped the home’s occupant escape, said she smoked cigarettes – and was also using oxygen.

Firefighters examine parts they believe to have come from an oxygen bottle in the burning home.

Concerns about exploding oxygen bottles
While crews fought the fire, aware of the reports of oxygen tanks in the home, bystanders were kept well back for fear of further explosions. Firefighters were also hampered by “a large collection on items stored in the home”.  It was for this reason, they said, they cordoned off a wide perimeter around the house, long after the active fire was extinguished.

The Red Cross responded to assist the man who lived in the home, and Animal Control was called to the scene since one dog died in the fire, and a second dog was missing. That dog had escaped the fire, and was found some five blocks away by Animal Control.

A Portland Police Officer talks with an investigator from Portland Fire & Rescue, as they compare notes about the suspected origins of this fire.

The exact cause of fire has not been release, nor have damage or loss figures, have been released by PF&R investigators.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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