All saved in 4-Alarm Care Center blaze in Powellhurst-Gilbert

INCLUDES VIDEO | Read the detailed description of how firefighters saved so many assisted-living residents from a fire that became a raging inferno …

Firefighters arrive to find an assisted care center’s roof ablaze; and smoke filling the interior. PF&R photo by Greg Muhr

By David F. Ashton

A timely call to the 9-1-1 Center from an employee of the ASA Care assisted living facility, in the wee hours of May 5 – and prompt, professional actions from Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) firefighters — saved many lives at a 4-Alarm fire in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood.

The block-wide facility which straddles the distance from SE Holgate Boulevard to the north to Pardee Street to the south – with a front entrance at 12045 SE Pardee Street – is where PF&R crews headed when dispatched at 1:09 a.m.

See flames leaping from the roof as this PF&R crew
arrives at the location:

“The first apparatus on scene [The Engine and Ladder Truck companies from Mill Park Station 7] reported back to dispatch that they saw ‘heavy fire’ from the roofline, and went all-in for ‘search’,” began the report of PF&R Public Information Officer Terry Foster.

“While Engine 7 began to pull hose lines to fight the fire, Truck 7 went into the interior, where firefighters found a couple of employees of the facility pulling residents out to safety. Ladder Truck 7’s crew began to pull other victims from their rooms as the fire blew down the vents and light fixtures above their heads,” Foster revealed.

More and more firefighters are called in to help find and remove residents, and to battle this quickly growing fire. PF&R photo

Ladder Truck 7’s lieutenant requested additional crews to help with evacuation, so Gilbert Station Engine 29 and Woodstock Station Engine 25’s firefighters helped get all who couldn’t evacuate themselves out of the burning building. A total of 16 people were evacuated out the front of the structure.

“At approximately 1:15 a.m., Command called for a second alarm, at this point a ‘Mass Casualty Incident’ was called for, due to the possibility of multiple victims – which brought additional fire units as well as ambulances to the scene,” Foster said.

The crew with Ladder Truck 7 continued the search of the rear of the building where they found an attached two-story building that had additional residents inside, and were able to safely evacuate an additional eight victims.

“At this point, the priorities of Incident Command shifted to extinguishment and bringing in the additional crews to focus more on the fire — which was now consuming a large portion of the attic space of this U-shaped building,” explained Foster.

Residents watch, as the building that’s been their home goes up in flames.

“Crews begin to pull down and open the ceiling to attack the fire from below; but the attic was so heavily involved with fire that crews were ordered to withdraw and attack the fire from outside the structure, until it was safe to continue interior operations,” said Foster.

During the firefighting operations, PF&R, the Portland Police Bureau, and ambulance paramedics moved victims to a safe place, as firefighting operations continued. “At 1:44 a.m., part of the roof collapsed, but did not fall on firefighters who had been ordered out of the building, in anticipation of such collapse,” Foster described.

Firefighters were able to get the fire under control and it was recalled at 2:25 a.m. “It is without a doubt that having the appropriate resources made a difference in the outcome of this incident,” he said.

A paramedic helps an employee to a waiting ambulance. PF&R photo by Greg Muhr

Fire Chief Sara Boone later told the press, “First and foremost, I want to commend the heroism of the two on-site employees who risked their lives starting the initial evacuation of the residents under heavy fire conditions.

“When firefighters arrived, their number one priority was the immediate rescue of every resident within the facility under worsening fire conditions.”.

The following day, the damage to this care center is clearly evident from the street. East Portland News image

In the end, one employee of the care facility was taken by ambulance to a local hospital with minor injuries. All residents were successfully evacuated.

As of now, no cause for the blaze has been revealed.

© 2022 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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