Apartment fire displaces five residents on Foster Road

Here’s why additional firefighters were called in to help fight an outer East Portland apartment fire in the Pleasant Valley neighborhood …

A fire that started in an apartment led to much smoke in the air; officials closed down SE Foster Road as it quickly filled with emergency equipment.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

After a fire broke out on February 3, reported at 7:19 p.m., at the Garden Glen Manor Apartments at 13024 SE Foster Road, a number of Portland Fire & Rescue units were dispatched.

Just two minutes after the first radio call, firefighters from the nearby PF&R Gilbert Station, on Engine 29, pulled up. The crew reported back to dispatch that the fire was in the rear of two buildings in the complex. Soon, as many as 24 additional units were rolling in to assist.

Arriving crew members get briefed on this fire.

“Firefighters found a second-floor apartment burning, with flames rapidly moving up to the third floor apartment above,” reported PF&R Public Information Officer Lt. Damon Simmons.

With the fire being in the building furthest from SE Foster Road, (the “lower” building) firefighters quickly hooked up a large number of water supply lines to reach the blaze. © 2020 GOOGLE ~ Imagery © 2020 Maxar Technologies

“The location of the burning apartment within the complex forced fire crews to move water supply hose lines, by hand, over a long distance; by the time they were able to get water on the fire it had spread into the attic,” Simmons explained.

A “Second Alarm” was called by the Incident Commander at 7:26 p.m. to summon even more firefighters and equipment to the scene. According the PF&R spokesperson, Portland Fire crews were also assisted by the Gresham and Clackamas fire departments.

Additional firefighters respond to the fire.

“Fires in large apartment complexes can be difficult to control, because a number of tasks have to be accomplished very quickly,” Simmons explained about the Second Alarm call. “In this case, firefighters searched six units for occupants, others moved to extinguish the fire, and others cut holes in the roof to ventilate deadly fire gases, turn off power to the building, and evacuate neighboring buildings.

“All residents escaped safely, and no injuries were reported; firefighters rescued one dog who, is doing well,” said Simmons. “Residents were provided temporary warm refuge in a bus. However, as many as five apartments had damage that will likely require the residents to be displaced for a longer period of time.”

Pumps on Engine 29 power multiple streams of water down long sections of lines, to where fire crews are working.

American Red Cross Cascades Region volunteers assisted residents who needed to find shelter.

PF&R Investigators came to the scene, but the cause of this fire has yet to be publicly revealed.

Two firefighters walk up from the back of this deep lot, ready to be replaced by other crew members.

“We remind you to create and practice a fire escape plan,” Simmons asked us to relay to the public. “Because a fire can double in size every 30 seconds, make every second count by knowing several ways to escape your residence. Establish a safe meeting place – and never go back into a building on fire, for any reason.”

© 2020 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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