Arson fire, commercial blaze, fought on Division Street

These outer East Portland blazes broke out within blocks of each other in the Centennial neighborhood, on the same day. While not related, they are interesting …

In the Centennial neighborhood, firefighters are called to a vehicle on fire, just off SE Division Street.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

It was an interesting shift for Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) firefighters on May 8, as crews from outer East Portland stations responded to fires – early in the morning, and in the afternoon – all within two blocks along SE Division Street.

Suspect accused with vehicle arson

Portland Police Bureau officers met PF&R firefighters when dispatched on May 8 at 12:44 a.m., after a caller to the 9-1-1 Center reported a vehicle ablaze in the 16000 block of SE Division Street.

Through their investigation, officers learned about a second vehicle that had been on fire nearby to the west on SE 115th Avenue, a block north of SE Division Street, but residents were able to extinguish that one without help.

Investigators from the two Bureaus identified 25-year-old Sierra Nicole Murdock as the suspect, and took her into custody.

Facing several Misdemeanor charges, and a Class C Felony charge of Arson II, is 25-year-old Sierra Nicole Murdock. MCDC booking photo

Murdock was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center at 3:28 a.m. that morning on three counts of Arson in the Second Degree, three counts of Unlawful Entry into a Motor Vehicle, Theft in the Third Degree, Harassment, and Parole Violation.

At her arraignment, Murdock learned that she would be facing all those charges, and she is still in custody at the MCDC, in lieu of $10,000 combined bail.

Anyone with information concerning her case is asked to contact Detective Meredith Hopper at or (503) 823-3408.

Smoldering bark dust the source of a commercial fire

The damage to this outer East Portland business looks slight from the outside, but inside the store is gutted by fire.

At 4:01 p.m. on Friday afternoon, May 8, both Portland and the Gresham Fire Department were dispatched to A Bead Source, at 15831 SE Division Street.

“Firefighters needed to use tools to remove bars from the windows and to break open the doors, for access and to make the structure safe for firefighters operating inside,” reported PF&R Public Information Officer Lt. Damon Simmons.

Inside the shop, the heat is so intense that ceiling fan blades and LED bulbs melt into long strands of plastic. PF&R image

“Firefighters inside found a large amount of fire, high heat, and heavy smoke – but were able to extinguish most of the fire within 20 minutes,” Simmons said.

A PF&R Fire Investigator determined that this fire had started accidentally outside the building, in bark dust, and apparently then spread inside through a crawl space vent.

Perhaps a discarded lit cigarette or match lit this back dust on fire, and traveled into the building via this vent. PF&R image

According to the shop owner’s Facebook page, although the damage inside the business was substantial, they do plan to clean it up and rebuild.

© 2020 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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