‘Accident’ sets Lents church ablaze

Look, and see why damages were minimal to this outer East Portland house of worship from this fire …

After a fire breaks out at this Lents neighborhood church, SE Harold Street quickly becomes filled with fire engines and ladder trucks.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Alert Lents neighborhood neighbors, noticing smoke, then fire, on the afternoon August 23 coming from the front inside corner of a church on SE Harold Street near 118th Avenue – and promptly calling it in to the 9-1-1 Center – likely kept the building, built in 1946, from burning down.

“I was out walking my dog, and I saw someone over by the church; a man walking away from the building; and smoke coming up from the outside,” neighbor Theresa Blackman told East Portland News. “When I saw fire, I called 9-1-1; I think other people did, too, because the fire trucks all pulled in here very quickly” she added.

After quenching the blaze, firefighters return inside the building, looking for remaining embers to extinguish.

Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) crews were dispatched to the church at 4:13 p.m. The first crew in, those riding Lents Station 11’s Engine 11 reported back to dispatch seeing smoke and fire at the True Vine Baptist Church, located at 11811 SE Harold Street.

Soon, crews from other stations pulled up, including those on Mill Park Station 7’s Ladder Truck – as well as a rig from PF&R’s Training Station 2, in Parkrose.

Looking in through an open side door, from the street, it’s clear to see where the fire burned through the corner of the building.

Some firefighters began to immediately quench the blaze from outside the structure, other crew members went inside to look for potential victims.

“The fire did burn through the corner of the building; however, there was very little damage to the inside of the church,” a PF&R Battalion Chief said at the scene.

It’s unclear how the fire that burned through the side of this church started, but officials say it was an “accidental” blaze.

Soon, powerful portable fans were ventilating smoke from the inside of the building and firefighting crews began to head back to their stations.

“I contacted the responding officer, he said it was determined to be an accidental fire,” PF&R Public Information Officer Terry Foster told East Portland News about the fire.

© 2021 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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