Bedroom fire puts apartment dweller out in cold

Find out why this fire could have been much worse – and what was done to keep it from affecting many families on this chilly night …

With the fire raging in the upper unit of this apartment building, firefighters prepare to ladder up to the roof. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

By David F. Ashton
Minutes before 9:00 p.m. on November 19, a blaze broke out in an apartment unit at 15512 SE Division Street. Because apartment building fires can spread quickly and affect many families, Portland Fire & Rescue firefighters roll out from many stations, making sure resources are at hand to deal with any size conflagration.

Just one minute after the call was dispatched, the first Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) unit of a what became a total of four engine and two truck companies rolled on-scene and began to attack the fire, which was clearly visible, shooting from a second-story window.

Smoke fills the outer hallway as firefighters make an interior attack on the burning bedroom. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

“The first unit to arrive was a PF&R Fire Investigator who was only four blocks away at the time of dispatch,” reported PF&R spokesman Tommy Schroeder. “The Investigator was able to give a quick size-up and assessment of the incident for other responding units.”

Within about twenty minutes, Schroeder said, firefighters had  “quickly knocked down the fire with an aggressive interior attack.”

With the blaze quenched, the Fire Investigator up in the affected apartment makes an evaluation, and other firefighters start to pick up their gear. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

Interviews with witnesses revealed that the occupant had initially tried to extinguish the fire by herself, Schroeder revealed. “She was yelling for a neighbor to call 9-1-1. Portland Fire & Rescue reminds its citizens that fire doubles in size every 2 minutes, so every second counts.”

The investigator determined the fire cause to be accidental, with estimated damages to the structure and contents at approximately $20,000.00.

At publishing deadline, the exact cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

  • On the front page: Firefighters climb to the roof of the burning apartment building. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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